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'Bruyneel wants Lance to win'

2009-07-13 16:43
Lance Armstrong (AFP)

Madrid - Astana's Belgian manager Johan Bruyneel wants Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France this year, according to Spanish cycling manager Manolo Saiz.

"He wants Armstrong to win the Tour. That is his goal, above all," he said in an interview published in Catalan daily Vanguardia, but felt that Spain's Alberto Contador was "the best rider at the moment" in the bunch.

Armstrong said over the weekend that tension exists in his Astana team as both he and Contador bid to win the Tour. The US rider, a seven-time champion, is participating in the Tour for the first time since retiring in 2005.

Saiz, manager of the iconic but controversial Spanish team Once and Liberty Seguros - now Astana - gave up cycling after being briefly arrested in 2006 under the Puerto doping case but according to the paper continues to follow closely what happens in Astana.

He said that Astana, under Bruyneel, raced "very conservatively" in the Pyrenees mountains, including in Sunday's stage, a style that favours the American rider.

Saiz also predicted that Astana "will be cut in half this season and Bruyneel will seek a new sponsor" hoping Armstrong will join him "as the winner of the Tour."

Contador is currently second in the overall standings of the Tour, six seconds behind the leader, Italy's Rinaldo Nocentini and two seconds ahead of Armstrong, who is in third place.

Armstrong, 37, said on Sunday he probably would continue his career after the 2009 Tour, suggesting he would participate in the next edition of the race.

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