Are we clear yet?

Disco Posse - (c) Ken Conley

It's Contador's team

Nocentini - (c) Ken ConleyBrice Feillu and Christophe Kern went 1/2 for France from the breakaway as the race transitioned from Spain to France with its stop in the tiny country of Andorra. Cancellara put on a good show of defense of his yellow jersey, but the writing was on the wall as the climb in Arcalis dragged on. No one probably predicted that another rider in the breakaway, Rinaldo Nocentini, would be the one to take it off his shoulders, but that's the rare promise that motivates a great breakaway.

It feels good to put the Astana leadership debate to rest, for now. Contador showed why he can win the Tour by putting in an explosive attack that none of the other GC contenders could chase down. He went so fast it looked like he was descending as he freewheeled around a switchback. Armstrong and Levi were loyal teammates, following the wheels and keeping themselves in a strong position in the GC. Overall, Astana did a great job setting the early tempo on the Arcali, controlling the field up until the moment of Contador's attack.

If there's any doubt that Astana is in the driver's seat, just look at the GC standings:

  1. Nocentini
  2. Contador 0.06
  3. Armstrong 0.08
  4. Leipheimer 0.39

related articles: Tour de France Tour de France 2009
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Comments (3)

I wouldn't say that Contador did much of anything to show his dominance (amongst the team) in this early stage. I would be willing to guess that it was a team decision to have him go up front and reduce his gap a bit. Astana has a lot to gain to have 1st, 2nd and 3rd tied up by the end of the race (which they have the power to do).

I will say this, Contador is an awesome climber, very awesome. Astana is in a very interesting position with by having three GC riders on the team and today's performance was probably a big psychological blow to the rest of the field because, like the rest of us they are all wondering who is Astana riding for?

MarvinK:

I don't think it shows it is Contador's team... I think it shows it *should* be Contador's team. There are too many other factors.. like money and a future on Nike/Livestrong.. to give Contador the team he deserves. He would have been smart to switch teams, and it is probably lucky for Armstrong that Contador didn't.

It will be Armstrong's team until he (convincingly) proves he can't beat everyone else (besides Contador). I think Johan is thinking an all Astana podium, with Lance on top.

kwc Author Profile Page:

I agree with the *should* distinction. Clearly the team is divided with Contador no longer following official team orders, so it's not truly anyone's team.

I don't know how it affects Nike/Livestrong, unless Armstrong decides he's going to come back again next year. It's clear that win or lose, Armstrong is worth plenty of money to the sport. It's odd enough watching the Trek commercials and hearing Contador announcing that you can win Armstrong's or Levi's bike -- personally I'd rather win Contador's.

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