The last fortnight in cycling has provided some interesting reading. If
you're a golf fan, well, that's been more interesting again, but I
digress about Tiger and his, um, tigresses; I'll leave the topic of
infidelity among sportspeople for my column in next month's Playboy. (Joking.)
course, there's the transfer of Bradley Wiggins to Team Sky for an
estimated Ã¢â¬4 million over four years, not to mention the Ã£2M-plus
buyout fee the corporate behemoth-backed squad paid to his former team
Ã¢â¬â ker-ching, ker-ching!
Santa came early for Wiggo (and to an extent, Garmin, too), you could say.
before that, however, what piqued my interest were the rumblings that
roused from the recent RadioShack and Astana training camps.
all know now of the rift between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador
that climaxed at this year's Tour Ã¢â¬â the likes of which the Texan claims
to have never experienced before Ã¢â¬â but depending on what your take is,
it's almost as if Lance has conceded defeat to the unflappable Spaniard
at next year's Tour, before a pedal has been turned.
bike, I'll say Alberto is the biggest and best talent we have now, and
maybe the biggest we've ever seen," said Armstrong at his team's first
get-together in Tuscon, Arizona, last week.
"I come from the
perspective from being on the team with him, I saw physically how good
he was [at the Tour], I also saw mentally and emotionally how strong he
is off the bike," he added.
"I'm not a fool, I've sized up
plenty of competition in my day, and he's going to be very difficult to
beat Ã¢â¬â some would say impossible. He's a complete rider, it's tough to
beat someone who can climb and time trial that well."
manager, long-time confidante, and mastermind behind Armstrong's seven
Tour victories, Johan Bruyneel, didn't sound all that confident,
either: "We just have to hope that Alberto won't be on the same level."
later qualified his remarks by saying it's not only about being the
strongest. "You have to have a good support team, a team of coaches and
people around you that have the experience, and then there's the
tactics. Race circumstances. Cycling is not an exact science. A lot of
things can happen," he said.
Problem is, though, Contador pretty
much demonstrated to the world that he can win the Tour de France with
or without a team, and irrespective of tactics or race circumstances.
all, as Armstrong keeps mentioning, eight out nine riders on the Astana
roster at this year's Tour left for RadioShack (another three, not on
the Tour team, also bailed), which is indicative of how much (read:
little) support Contador had in July.
What's more, aged 27 and
at the cusp of what the majority of expert sport physiologists consider
one's cycling prime, there's every chance Contador won't be on the same
level in 2010 Ã¢â¬â he's likely to be even better.
sport director, Matt White, told me at the Cronulla Grand Prix last
Sunday that tragedy would be the only circumstance that would allow
someone other than Contador or Andy Schleck to win next year's Tour.
But you know what? I still give Lance a chance Ã¢â¬â it's just very minute.