Huesca - Alberto Contador declined to comment
on the possibility of Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour
de France titles, and instead paid tribute on Friday to his former
teammate's skill on the bike.
Armstrong said he won't pursue
arbitration in the case brought against him by the US Anti-Doping
Agency, which says his Tour titles will be stripped and he will be
banned for life for doping.
Contador, who hesitantly partnered
Armstrong during the first year of the American's comeback in 2009 with
Astana, said he had kept his distance from the case.
"I'm not up
to date on the case. Whenever I'm competing at a major race I try to
keep these things to the margin and stay completely focused on the
race," Contador said Friday before the start of the seventh stage of the
Spanish Vuelta. "I don't know if it's over or not. The truth is I'm not
thinking about it."
Contador and Armstrong were bitter teammates
during the seven-time Tour champion's return to cycling after a
three-year hiatus, with Contador eventually emerging as the team No. 1
on his way to winning the Tour that season. Armstrong, who came third,
moved to Radioshack the next season.
Still, the Spanish cyclist,
who was stripped of his 2010 Tour victory because of drug charges, was
polite in describing the 40-year-old Armstrong's abilities on the bike
after having once described their relationship as "zero."
he was a cyclist who always showed such strength, great intelligence
and spectacular physical conditioning," said Contador, who is third
overall at the Vuelta.
Few cyclists wanted to comment on
Armstrong's dilemma before the start of Friday's Vuelta leg, with 2002
Tour runner-up Joseba Beloki refusing to say anything despite the
possibility of winning the title if Armstrong is formally stripped.
read the cycling news and commented about it on the team bus, but
nothing more than that," Dutch cyclist Joost van Leijen of Lotto Belisol
said. "I understand his decision. The chasers will never stop and he
has a life after this."