Armstrong and Contador: Tour de France Comes Down to These Two

Ken BlackContributor IJuly 13, 2009

COL D'AGNES, FRANCE - JULY 11:  Lance Armstrong (C) of USA and team Astana climbs flanked by his teammate Alberto Contador (L) of Spain up the Col d'Agnes during stage eight of the 2009 Tour de France from Andorra la Vella to St Girons on July 11, 2009 on Col d'Agnes, France.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

The Tour de France is one of the greatest summer sporting events, but two teammates, and rivals from the Astana team have quickly shown who the cream of the crop is at this year's event.

Not since Floyd Landis' debacle in 2006 has their been so much drama and excitement in the racing world. The fact of the matter is that Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador have shown why they are the best in the sport, and why they have egos that made this team interesting, but ultimately flawed.

Yes, one of these two will win the Tour. There is no doubt about it. The edge has to be given to Contador, not only because he can fly up mountains with an acceleration no one else can match, but because Armstrong has been retired for four years—and is 10 years Contador's senior.

But the interesting thing this year in the bicycle race has not been in the race itself, but the daily soap opera that plays out between these two on a daily basis.

It all started on the climb to Arcalis Friday when Contador, going against the team's directive, attacked on the final climb. Armstrong says he could have bridged the gap, eventually, but that wasn't the plan. So he held back.

Now, Armstrong admitted what the rest of us have known for weeks, despite all the denials.

"The honest truth is that there is a little tension," The Associated Press quoted Armstrong as saying.

He also noted not to expect any big moves until Verbier on Sunday, the 19th stage. By then, there will have already been another significant shakeup in the standings. The time trial is Saturday.

The big question is: Can Armstrong still win the Tour?

The short answer is yes, he can. But he will need to ride a good time trial and then hope Contador falters. Then he will have to match Contador's accelerations in the mountains, or at least not depend on the others to draw him up to Contador's wheel.

And then, most of all, he will probably have to give up any thoughts of winning on Ventoux. His goal will be to keep Contador in his sights. The only way Armstrong wins on Ventoux the final Saturday is if they both go up the mountain in first and second place together.

That would be a sight to see.