Though the 2010 version of the Tour de France is still some 48 weeks away, there is already a buzz going on.
Unlike this year's tour, where the two alpha-males had to pretend to like each other for the sake of the team and media, there is no doubt anymore concerning how Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador feel about each other.
Armstrong and Contador's relationship is not strained; it simply does not exist at all.
"My relationship with Lance is zero," Contador said just a day after winning his second yellow jersey.
Armstrong, fresh off his third-place finish, was not about to back down, despite both guys playing down the strain that was obviously so present.
"Seeing these comments from AC [Alberto Contador]," he mentioned on Twitter. "If I were him, I'd drop this drivel and start thanking his team. W/o them, he doesn't win."
Armstrong wasn't done. A minute later, he posted on Twitter, "Hey, pistolero, there is no 'I' in team. What did I say in March? Lots to learn. Restated."
Much has been made of Armstrong's performance in this year's Tour de France. In truth, it would have been hard for him to do much better—and Contador had the opportunity to make it much worse and possibly keep him off the podium altogether.
No matter what, Contador was the best rider. But Armstrong loves a challenge. And next year, they will be on different teams.
Anything he was holding back from this year—which didn't appear to be much—will not be held back next year. Assuming he gets in a full spring of training, with no broken collar bone, he may even be stronger.
Contador is moving on to a different team. That team is likely going to be much weaker than the team he is currently on.
Armstrong has proven time and time again he does not need motivation to win major bike races, but that has never stopped him from using it.
When next year's Tour comes around, Armstrong may not win. But it's a safe bet the battles on the mountains are going to be far more interesting.
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