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Contador must understand that his chances to win another Tour are on the line on Friday, while Armstrong understands he is rewriting Tour de France history as each day goes by.
After Noval's statement, Bruyneel shifted instantly into damage control mode. And although it was easy to disregard Noval's comments as sour grapes, Bruyneel sounded like the Nike Free 5.0 Mens Grey Red
Others claim that Contador has long been soliciting allies with Spaniards on other teams. Philippe Brunel, a senior cycling reporter for L'Equipe, has written almost daily about the Tour's biggest soap opera. According to Brunel on Thursday, Contador helped neutralize Cadel Evans for Alejandro Valverde during the Dauphine Libere race in exchange for potential support during the Tour from his Caisse d'Epargne team.
"We're riding for ourselves," Caisse d'Epargne director Yvon Ledannois told Bicycling prior to the start of stage six in Gerona. "But allies can be made and broken on virtually every kilometer during the Tour."
Friday's much anticipated mountain stage to Andorra Arcalis will likely determine whether Contador can establish himself as the team's true leader, or whether Armstrong will take the reins.
spin doctor when he said, "I specifically did not include Noval on the team to avoid clans." Every word and gesture within the team is now elevated to distorted levels of importance.
"The leader on the team is me," Bruyneel told the French sports daily L'Equipe on Wednesday. "Lance and Alberto are now the two favorites of Nike Free Huarache 5.0 this Tour de France."
After just six stages, the 2009 Tour de France has already produced much drama especially surrounding seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador. Though Contador wears number 21, which designates him as Astana's official team leader, Armstrong holds onto second place just a fraction of a second behind race leader Fabian Cancellara while Contador hangs on in third.
responsible for the bad ambiance that is in Astana today," he said on the Spanish radio station Cadena SER. "The way he reacted created clans. He didn't have confidence in Contador and doesn't respect him as a leader. I affirm it and told it to Bruyneel's face."
And, still according to Brunel, defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre could serve as Contador's rocket launcher once the race hits the high mountains since he still harbors resentment toward Armstrong for making light of his win.
As Armstrong continues to improve in this year's race, Contador appears somewhat isolated on the team. Some say that Armstrong has more friends within the team. Benjamin Noval, Contador's most faithful teammate, was not selected for the Tour team; only Sergio Paulinho is considered an unconditional Contador support rider. Armstrong, on the other hand, can clearly count on Yaroslav Popovych and Levi Leipheimer. Andreas Kloeden, Haimar Zubeldia and Gregory Rast take orders from Bruyneel, who it is assumed, will vote for Armstrong if the American continues to progress and if Contador fails to clearly take the upper hand.
"The situation is very complicated between Bruyneel and Contador," says Jose Luis Benito, a widely respected cycling journalist for El Diario Vasco. "It started when Contador learned of Armstrong's return through the press while he was winning the Tour of Spain last year. He didn't appreciate the fact that Bruyneel didn't inform him first. Now it is clear that Contador will not ride for Bruyneel next year and while there is professional respect, they are not friends."
Tour de France 2009 Stage 6
increase on Contador, as Armstrong is getting better by the day. If he makes it through the only big mountain stage in the Pyrenees intact, the Texan will have time to recuperate before the final week of climbing in the Alps and up Mont Ventoux.
Team director Johan Bruyneel announced that Contador would lead the team in the days before the Tour de France. As Armstrong moved up in the rankings this week, though, Bruyneel's position began to morph.
Noval, of course, shattered the veneer of team harmony earlier this week. "Since Armstrong came to the team, Bruyneel is Nike Free 5.0 2018 Women's
One thing is certain: Friday's stage to Andorra Arcalis, the first real mountain stage in this year's race, will provide clear answers. If Contador takes the upper hand and drops Armstrong, the Astana team will be forced to support him. If, however, Armstrong holds even on the climb to Arcalis, the pressure will only Nike Free Run 5.0 Mens Running Shoes
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