By Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo
The second return of Lance Armstrong has attracted the rapt attention of the world wide press, and no aspect of the story has been examined closer than the supposed rivalry between the seven-time Tour de France winner and his teammate Alberto Contador, himself a three-time Grand Tour champion in the past two seasons. Both riders appeared in public together for the first time at a press conference in the hotel Las Madrigueras on the island of Tenerife where the Astana team is having its camp.
When Lance Armstrong announced his comeback, he made it clear he would try for an eighth Tour title, but then backed down to a point where it wasn't clear if he would actually race the July event. He emphatically stated his intentions to compete in the Tour earlier this week, qualifying the announcement by saying that he was committed to racing "for the strongest guy".
Today, Armstrong dispelled any notion of there being internal strife within the team by unequivocally supporting his young Spanish teammate, Alberto Contador. "I think Alberto has obviously a tremendous amount of natural talent, and can read a race," Armstrong said. "I have a lot of respect for this man. I can't say it any simpler. This guy is the best cyclist in the world."
"There are certain unwritten laws in cycling – the others ride to support the strongest rider. Weather it means to support Alberto [Contador] or Levi [Leipheimer] or Andreas [Klöden], I'll do that."