Lance Armstrong confirms heightened tension with Contador
LANCE Armstrong has confirmed the tension with Astana team-mate Alberto Contador is nearing boiling point as the Tour de France gears up for its second week.
TENSIONS RISE: Lance Armstrong confirms the Astana dinner table is not a great place to be at the moment
The seven-time champion is currently third in the overall standings, just two seconds behind pre-race favourite Contador and six behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini.
Astana are in the unique position of having two riders in contention for the yellow jersey and that has sparked a fierce rivalry between Armstrong and Contador - who stole 21 secs on the 37-year-old Texan in a ruthless attack in the mountains on Friday.
Team manager Johan Bruyneel had hinted on the eve of the Grand Depart in Monaco it would be the Spaniard, 11 years Armstrong's junior, to lead the team, and Contador's strike on Friday was ominous for the American - who is competing in his first Tour since 2005.
And while Armstrong acknowledged there is a clear divide within the team, he is adamant there is a long way to go before the destination of the maillot jaune is decided.
"The honest truth is that there's a little tension at the dinner table," said Armstrong, in an interview with French television.
"But for me, Alberto is very strong, very ambitious and I understand that. I've won this race seven times and I understand he wants to want it a second time.
"I would like to win. If he proves to be the best rider in the race, there's nothing I can do.
"The race is only 25 per cent done - there's a lot of racing to go.
"I just try to stay relaxed and keep the atmosphere as calm as I can - not only with Alberto but with the other guys and the staff."
With regards to Contador's attack in stage six, Armstrong was suitably impressed, but denied accusations he was out of his depth.
"I wouldn't say that I could have easily followed, because it was an impressive attack," Armstrong said.
"I probably could have gone, but I didn't see it coming and it wouldn't be correct for me to go across. So, I waited for the other guys. I expected them to be able to pull it back and they didn't, but that's life, that's cycling, and I had to do the right thing."
And if Contador believes the 2009 Tour will be the last he sees of Armstrong, he will have to think again.
Asked if this would be his last attempt at the Tour, Armstrong replied: "Probably not. Probably not. Maybe one more Tour."