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Stuck in the shadows

This years Tour de France is almost at the end of its’ second week. From a British point of view first of all; great riding Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins, hopefully they’ll come out with that green sprinters jersey and a high placed finish respectively.   While tempting, I’m not going to spend this blog lauding British cycling, it’s had quite enough of that in recent times.   Instead I’m intrigued by the goings on in the Astana team.

I don’t know whose decision it was to place two former tour winners in the same team and to position the junior, certainly in terms of past accomplishments, as the lead rider.   Lance Armstrong has won seven tours, had a bestselling book, brings a strong media and fan following wherever he goes and is arguably the most well known cyclist…ever.   Do you think that it would be an easy transition for him to drop down the pecking order to team rider regardless of current form?   I don’t.   And so it is proving to be.

Fair play to Contador, he’s coping admirably with the demands and trying to let his riding do the talking, which the mountains will almost certainly allow him to do.   But criticism about his tactics and experience from Armstrong, his ‘team’mate, don’t make the task any easier.   I don’t place much blame on Armstrong, I can’t imagine Michael Schumacher going back into formula 1 and playing second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel, but the difference is that none of the F1 team principals would allow that.  The head of the Astana team should be reviewing his/her decision to recruit both riders.

Who knows, it may turn out to be positive with the competition pushing Contador to better performance…or it may prove to be a massive distraction, time will tell.   I know that I’d want my rider free to concentrate 100% on his own performance supported by his team instead of on one of the most prolific tour riders ever and his teammate trying to usurp him.

Neil Welch

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