Contador criticised by Astana
Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel revealed Alberto Contator defied team orders on Wednesday.
Last Updated: 04/08/09 5:27pm
Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel has criticised Alberto Contator for breaking team orders on Wednesday's 17th stage of the Tour de France - although the Spaniard's move looks to have secured him overall victory in the race.
Contador defied team plans by dropping fellow Astana rider Andreas Kloeden in the third Alpine stage of Le Tour and going on with Andy and Frank Schleck, who eventually won the stage.
The move ruined Astana's plans of trying to get Kloeden and Lance Armstrong into the top three to join yellow jersey wearer Contador in the overall standings.
As a result, the Schleck brothers moved up into second and third in the general classification, while Armstrong dropped to fourth and Kloeden fifth.
"Today I told him several times that it was not necessary to attack to win the Tour," Bruyneel said after the stage. "I said it because we still have some hard days to come. It was his choice, it didn't work."
"The attack from Contador three kilometres from the top was against my advice. I told him not to go, he didn't need to attack, because the two Schlecks would go full gas to the finish.
"So it was a pity Andreas couldn't hold on because we could have been first, second and third today in general classification, but now we are first, fourth and fifth."
An unhappy Armstrong admitted he had to 'bite his tongue' on the topic, as the tensions between the two riders continue to grow, although the American has been backing team leader Contador so far.
Astana sports director Alain Gallopin went even further in his criticism of the Tour leader, telling French radio Europe 1: "He made a mistake. He made Andreas lose second place.
"We did not tell him to attack, he had won the Tour. He is a young rider, he still has to learn."
Thursday's stage is a 40.5km time trial in Annecy and Contador's lead seems secure, while Armstrong is still hoping to push for second place.
"Second is still my goal, I guess it's still possible," said Armstrong. "If I don't win it's not the end of the world, but of course I would like to be on the podium in Paris."
"I just need to work hard at the time-trial to make up for the time I lost. I don't want to chase it, but I have no choice."
Britain's Bradley Wiggins also lost time on Wednesday's stage, but his hopes of a podium finish in Paris could remain intact if he produces an impressive time-trial on Thursday.
After playing second-fiddle to Contador at Astana, Armstrong is expected to launch his own team along with Bruyneel next year.