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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why cycling needs Media Watch (posted originally July 28 2009)

Firstly, the Spanish news headlines "My relationship with Armstrong is null." The English-speaking headlines "Contador slams,rips, furious with Armstrong."
..and there's more (from Steephill TV):

Contador: my relationship with him is null and regardless of his way of being he is a grand champion, he has won 7 tours, and he's played a great role in this Tour. At a personal level it's different, I have never had a great admiration for him, nor will I. But as a cyclist, of course, he is a great champion.

Question: Have you ever felt that the polemic with Armstrong and Astana is similar to what Alonso felt with Hamilton and McLaren? It's a perfect comparison. And secondly, knowing that you were the virtual winner of the race, how do you feel about the folks in Paris not preparing the correct national anthem and playing the anthem of another country?
Contador: Well with Hamilton and Alonso, in a way I think it's similar to what I have experienced, the difference being that with Fernando and Formula 1, the cars have a great influence. In comparison on the bicycle it's different and in that sense, I was clear that if I kept a cool head and my legs continued to respond the way they had been, I wasn't going to have any major problems. As for the anthem, it was an enormous gaff. They knew ahead of time what anthem they had to prepare and well, after 5 to 10 seconds, I realised what anthem it was, more like I realised that it wasn't the Spanish anthem. They rectified the situation late, but they rectified it.
Question: Has Bruyneel disappointed you?
Contador: No, it's also something I don't want to get into. I have always kept myself at the margin of all these types of things. I understand the attitude that he has had, perfectly. At the end of the day, he owes everything he has to Armstrong. He was with him for 7 Tours, it's normal that he has greater affinity towards him than he has towards me. I understand his situation perfectly, and well, it's not a disappointment for me.

Whether the Spanish translation has inaccuracies or not, most English speaking media didn't impart that the Alonso/Hamilton comparison wasn't something Contador came up with himself. Also conveniently missing is his respect of Bruyneel and his understanding of Bruyneel's situation and natural affinity with Armstrong. Regarding Lance, he was telling the truth when asked about the tension (and the impact that has on not them, but the crew etc) but not once devalued the champion cyclist that he is and actually said he played a great role at the Tour.

I'm disappointed that Armstrong didn't consider this with the power he has - without consideration, he tweeted what he did to his 1.5m followers, most of whom have minimal understanding of the intricacies of cycling or because of Armstrong's god like cancer fighting ability have forgotten them. These tweets have just added to what he's already dished out to Contador - the team leader - since he announced his comeback.

But my major disappointment is with respected cycling journalists (who I also respect and probably still will) who are now subjectively fawning, but never used to, over Armstrong. They're tweeting sensationalism all over the place, like there must must be more to this (turns out from reading the translation there isn't!) etc etc. You follow the trail of their followers and people who should know better are accepting it all without question, and saying horrible unfounded things in response. Why couldn't these journalists (and commentators) wait for the Spanish translation at least?

While he probably should've let just his victory speak, Contador is a human and has every right to say what he did when asked by his home media. Some are saying he shouldn't have said anything because the last kilometre has been raced - the three weeks (no, make that at least eight months) of Lance's trash talk are over. Firstly, I'm amazed Contador has kept it in this long, and secondly, what's the difference between saying something during the Tour and after? That's a bit of a halo view of sport isn't it?

Contador did not criticise his team or the contribution of Lance to the team and the Tour. It was fairly considered and respectful unlike the responses by, well pretty much everyone stunned like rabbits in the glare of Lance's limelight.

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