PARIS // The next chapter in the rivalry between seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and defending champion Alberto Contador will take place in a majestic landscape next July - the Pyrenees. Riders of the most prestigious three-week cycling race will celebrate the first crossing of the Pyrenees 100 years ago with four stages in the daunting mountains that form the border between France and Spain.
Tour organisers unveiled the 2010 course yesterday, with Armstrong and Contador attending the ceremony in Paris. The pair worked together as Astana teammates during this year's race, and the Spaniard won the Tour for a second time while Armstrong finished third. Contador and Armstrong shook hands at the Palais des Congres for the ceremony but did not chat. "They're already writing the script," Armstrong said about his rivalry with Contador. "It's good for cycling. I think he and I could do without it but I think its good for the event and good for our sport. For sure, the build up to the tour, from April to May to June and to the start, it'll be really intense."
Armstrong, 38, has left the Kazakh-funded Astana to launch his own team, RadioShack, who have yet to be granted a ProTour licence. French prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation after suspicious medical material was seized during this year's Tour, with Astana among those being investigated. "I don't have any answers because I don't know anything about the case," said Armstrong. "But I'm confident that our team have been racing clean. We just have to deal with it and get on with it."
The investigation was opened after syringes and transfusion material were found in a container used by the Kazakh-funded team to dump medical waste during the last four stages of this year's race. "In France, the fight against doping is total and Astana was the most scrutinised team in the Tour. I heard they were looking into our waste but I'm absolutely relaxed," said Contador. * AP