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Armstrong dual with Alberto heating up in Spain
Paris, Jul 9 (Agencies):
Published on 9 Jul. 2009 11:45 PM IST
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Lance Armstrong, the veteran rider, has upped the ante in his battle for supremacy with Astana team-mate Alberto Contador ahead of the Tour favourite's return to Spain. After another intriguing stage on the fifth day of the 96th edition of the Tour de France, Armstrong, the seven-time Tour winner, said that perhaps the young Spaniard, the 2007 winner, could still learn from him. "I told Alberto that today was going to be complicated," said Armstrong. "So maybe he sees that I know what is going on in the Tour de France." The Texan's words were, no doubt, a reference to stage three where Contador suffered after strong crosswinds tore the peloton apart leaving the struggling Spaniard in the chasing pack while his own experience showed as he dictated the pace to his remaining team-mates. Any evidence of conflict in the Astana team was difficult to detect during their near perfect ride in the team time-trial the following day when they reeled in race leader Fabian Cancellara's Saxo Bank team by 40secs and thereby propelling Armstrong into second place in the overall general classification. However, Armstrong's comments suggest that he is no mood to provide domestique duties for his climbing specialist team-mate, who is clearly relishing Friday's first stage in the mountains. "I can't wait to get to the mountains because it's my territory," said Contador. "The sensations are good, but I always like to confirm them." Meanwhile, Juan Antonio Flecha and Oscar Freire, Radobank's Spanish riders, are hoping to give their team a much-needed boost to their disappointing campaign on today's 181.5-kilometre stage from Gerona to Barcelona. Robert Gesink, the Dutch team's climbing specialist, made an early departure from the the race on Wednesday after suffering a nasty fall and team leader Denis Menchov, the Giro diItalia winner, is 3mins 52secs off the pace in 71st spot.

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