Johan Bruyneel Interview
Johan Bruyneel talks about preparing Team Astana for 2009.
and meanings get distorted. Even more so when translated to different languages. Personally, it’s quite amusing to see a statement in Spanish and then read the English translation. But yes, Alberto has had a magnificent year and is currently the best professional cyclist in the world. Developing him into a champion has been a very rewarding personal project. But people need to remember that I’m employed by our Kazakh sponsors, not Alberto Contador, not Lance Armstrong, not any one rider. That being said, the interests of the team are my top concern. At the end of the day, the strongest rider will be supported, regardless of that person’s name or what they’ve accomplished in the past. I think we just saw the perfect example of this. It’s no secret that Levi Leipheimer could have won the Vuelta, but it was clear to the team directors that Alberto was the strongest rider. Levi even held the leader’s jersey on two occasions, but we knew that Alberto was the strongest and worked to support him. We have some big names and great leaders on the 2008 squad. I think adding one more only makes us that much stronger.
Have Alberto and Lance spoken with each other lately?
Not that I know of. Alberto finished the Vuelta and shortly thereafter went to Varese for the Worlds. I imagine they will talk soon and then see each other at our first training camp in December. This is when the directors and I will discuss the 2009 season with the riders.
Is there a fear within the team that Contador will leave Team Astana because of Lance Armstrong's arrival?
I have read the reports that teams are interested in Alberto. Of course teams are looking to create conflicts between the two in hope that Alberto will leave, but Alberto signed a contract with Team Astana through 2010. Most riders sign two-year deals, but Alberto insisted on a three-year deal based on the strong team we established to help him win the biggest races. I have invested a lot of my time into Alberto’s development and he will remain with this team for the next two years. Actually, it’s pretty simple – there’s a contract and there are no options to leave.
What do you expect from the comeback of Lance Armstrong?
Well I certainly don’t have any doubts about Lance’s motivation and dedication. These are intangibles I would never bet against. The question remains if he can be at the same level or similar level after a few years away from the racing season. That’s an answer no one has right now, but I do believe Lance will be competitive. How competitive is something we will all have to wait and see. I’m excited for his comeback, not only for what it adds to the team, but also to the sport. No other person has such an impact on the sport on a local and global level. Plus his goal to make cancer awareness a global campaign is certainly very admirable. Our team will do our best