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Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 18:43 UK

No Armstrong rift, says Contador

Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong
Contador (left) is two seconds ahead of Armstrong in the Tour

Alberto Contador has played down talk of a rift between himself and Lance Armstrong, his team-mate and rival for overall victory in the Tour de France.

Seven-time champion Armstrong said on Sunday there is "tension" between the duo, who both ride for the Astana team.

But Contador said: "I don't feel any tension in the team. I don't feel alone - I have important people around me.

"We still have two weeks to go. The most important thing is that Astana wins in Paris."

The 26-year-old Spaniard, who won the Tour in 2007, was speaking on Monday during the first rest day of this year's race.

606: DEBATE
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There has been plenty of speculation about whether Contador or the 37-year-old Armstrong will emerge as Astana's team leader and receive support from their team-mates in the closing stages of the Tour.

But Contador feels too much is being made of the saga, adding: "It's a subject which is starting to tire me a bit, it's too repetitive.

"It's true that Armstrong has a media impact no other cyclist does, and these things make these things grow.

"It would be better for us if there were not so many questions about this.

"The Tour is a tiring race and you can't waste energy on things that don't concern the race.

"None of this affects me. It's true that the situation could be simpler, and I could focus exclusively on my pedalling. But my objective is to focus on the race and shut myself off from the rest."

Contador also insisted there is no split within the Astana team and feels it is important they continue to work together.

"The situation of the team is normal, like for any other rider in any other team on the race," he explained.

"We eat together at the table and are together on the bus. Often the tension seems higher from the outside than it really is.

We eat together at the table and are together on the bus. Often the tension seems higher from the outside than it really is

Alberto Contador

"All the riders in the Astana team are professional enough to work for all four main riders, I have no doubts about this.

"In the peloton, I have more affinity with some riders than others, just like Lance does. For the moment, it is not important to find allies yet.

"Believe me, everyone who wants to win a Tour needs a team - to win the Tour de France on your own, it's impossible."

After nine stages, Italy's Rinaldo Nocentini holds the yellow jersey and is six seconds ahead of Contador, with Armstrong another two seconds back.

The Tour resumes on Tuesday, with the first of three transitional stages, before the race returns to the mountains in the Alps on Friday - where Contador believes it will be settled.

"I think the Alps will make the difference," he added.

"From Colmar (stage 13 on Friday) onwards we have Verbiers. The time-trial and Mont Ventoux are also important, but I think the difference will have been made before.

"We will see what happens in the final week, we will work for the benefit of the team. The race will be very hectic in the Alps and things will become clearer."



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see also
Armstrong hints at 2010 Tour race
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Fedrigo triumphs on ninth stage
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Tour de France week two photos
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Cancellara wins first Tour stage
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Tour de France ones to watch
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Understanding the Tour de France
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling


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