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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 15:02 UK

Contador would welcome Armstrong

Alberto Contador
Contador would not want to play second fiddle to Armstrong

Alberto Contador, the 2007 Tour de France champion, says he would welcome Lance Armstrong joining his Astana team in an attempt to win an eighth Tour.

Astana sporting director Johan Bruyneel guided Armstrong to his record seven titles and has been linked with a reunion after he announced a comeback.

Spaniard Contador said: "It's good news for cycling. We would be delighted to welcome him with open arms at Astana.

"It's news that awakes your attention and will create a lot of interest."

Armstrong, 36, announced on Tuesday that he was coming out of retirement and planning to compete in the 2009 Tour de France.

That sparked speculation about him teaming up once against with Bruyneel.

The Belgian, 44, said: "My relationship with him goes beyond the professional rider-director relationship.

"I don't see myself running a team and having to race against him. I cannot imagine him being on another team.

"He won't have a problem finding one, but it's clear that the relationship we have means that I can't allow him to go to another team.

"It would be nice to be a part of this, but Astana is my team, this is what I built, so there's no way (I will quit)."

BBC Joe Wilson reports on the reaction to Armstrong's return

Bruyneel said that Armstrong - who turns 37 on 18 September - is not too old to claim another Tour de France win.

"Lance is exceptional. Don't forget (Spaniard Juan) Llaneras won Olympic medals (silver and gold on the track last month in Beijing) at 39. More than age, winning is a question of your psychology."

Armstrong has yet to reveal how he plans to go about winning an eighth Tour crown but will make a futher announcement on 24 September.

"We are obviously going to have to speak a lot in the next few days," said Bruyneel, who was in charge of US Postal and Discovery when Armstrong reigned between 1999 and 2005.

Bruyneel left Discovery after helping Contador win the Tour de France in 2007, taking charge of Astana in October of that year.

BBC Sport's Phil Harlow

However, Astana were barred from this year's Tour after a series of doping scandals at the 2006 and 2007 races. Their entry for 2009 would still need to be approved.

Bruyneel played down the prospect of conflict between Armstrong and Contador if the American joined.

"If Lance were not at a good enough level to win the Tour, knowing him as well as I do, I'm sure he would be happy to help Alberto do that," he claimed.

Contador, 25, currently racing in the Tour of Spain, admitted: "If both of us want to win the Tour then, yes, that will create some complications, but now is not the time to think about that."

see also
Armstrong looks to recapture past glories
10 Sep 08 |  Sport Homepage
Armstrong to make shock comeback
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Mixed reaction to Armstrong news
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong photos
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
606 Debate: Armstrong's return
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Lance Armstrong profile
24 Jul 05 |  Cycling
Life after Lance
28 Oct 05 |  Cycling
Armstrong seals seventh Tour win
24 Jul 05 |  Cycling

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