Lance Armstrong told VeloNews Sunday that he believes defending champion Alberto Contador will likely beat Andy Schleck to win this year’s Tour in one week’s time.
Asked if he had a preference between Schleck, who Armstrong considers a friend, or Contador, who Armstrong famously butted heads with during last year’s Tour, the Texan said Contador was in the driver’s seat.
“I don’t want to get into who I would prefer,” Armstrong said. “I think the smart money is on Alberto. He’s close enough now, he looks like he’s getting stronger. Obviously (with a GC difference of) 30 seconds, on the time trial, he wins it easy.”
Following stage 14, Armstrong told French TV that he believed Schleck would need a 90-second advantage heading into the 52km stage 19 time trial to win the overall.
Beginning at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, Armstrong and Schleck developed a friendship. “Andy is a good kid,” Armstrong told VeloNews. “I appreciate his friendship. I respect him a lot. I think he’s got a great future.”
But the RadioShack leader wouldn’t take the bait to profess that he’d prefer to see Schleck in yellow in Paris rather than Contador.
“I would say I prefer that the best person wins,” Armstrong said. “It’s the Tour de France — the most popular is not supposed to win, your best buddy is not supposed to win … it’s the hardest sporting event in the world, and the best guy is supposed to win. So if Alberto stays close, or passes Andy, or catches him in the last TT, well, we did three weeks, he did all the same roads we did, he proves he’s the best, then I’d prefer he wins.”
Armstrong said it’s not all about Schleck and Contador.
“It’s easy to say a two-way race … But the Pyrenees are so difficult. One bad day, this heat continues. One day one guy cracks, another day the other guy cracks, and then all of a sudden it’s a 10-way race. It’s too early to say that. They look great, they look strong. But I don’t want to say that yet.”