Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong admitted there was "real tension" within his team Astana at the Tour de France last month. The team won the race with Alberto Contador, but the process of determining the team leader created problems.
"There were not only tensions between him [Contador] and me, but other people [were] involved. There was quiet at the dinner table more than once," Armstrong told EuroSport last week.
Armstrong explained that it was his first time to deal with that type of situation, but that the team went ahead with its job to secure the Tour win. Contador won the race by 4:11 over Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) in second and 5:24 over Armstrong in third.
The rivalry between the two started last fall when Armstrong announced his comeback to cycling, within the same team as Contador. Armstrong won seven Tours under the direction of Bruyneel, but after he retired in 2005, Contador came to the team under Bruyneel and won the 2007 Tour.
"I think that the main issue is that Bruyneel is smart. Bruyneel knows how to manage the team, manage the tactics and conserve the energy that we needed. [He also knows how to] blow apart the race."
Armstrong said the team's Tour de France tactic weren't as conflicted as people had expected. "With T-Mobile a few years ago – with (Jan) Ulrich, (Andreas) Klöden, (Alexandre) Vino(kourov) – everybody wanted to be a leader... this was different!"
Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel will split with Astana and Contador effective at the end of this season. The American company RadioShack will sponsor their new team for two years Armstrong as announced on July 23.
"My goal is to win the Tour," said Armstrong "I'm not sure that I can! I'm confident and realistic. I will go in confident, but also I will go knowing realistically that he [Contador] is very good."
Armstrong said he can make improvements in his training and benefit from improvements to his bike. By the 2010 Tour, he will be stronger - with a full racing season behind him including the the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.
"We'll be better. I don't know if I will be good enough to beat Alberto, but I'll try!"
Armstrong started his season at the Tour Down Under in January and ended it at the Tour of Ireland last week. However, Armstrong will consider doing additional mountain bike races or non-UCI classified American road races before year's end.
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