Dec 3, 2008

Sport - Cycling greats Armstrong, Contador to train together Thursday - Astana

SAN ISIDRO, Spain (AFP) – Cycling greats Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, who is to bid for his eighth Tour de France title next year, will train together for the first time on Thursday, their Astana team said.

On Tuesday, they each trained in separate groups in the session that began on Sunday on the island of Tenerife.

"We have groups each day, one with the best prepared cyclists and the other with the least prepared," an Astana spokesman said.

The two are to train together "in theory on Thursday" in the same group.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong announced his comeback to cycling after a three-year hiatus earlier this year.

Astana announced Monday that the 37-year-old Texan would race the Tour de France in 2009, having originally implied his focus would be on a maiden Tour of Italy instead.

But there have been questions raised over the American's place in the Astana team alongside Contador, who was Tour de France winner in 2007.

Contador, 25, had hinted that he may quit Astana following the signing of Armstrong but later said he had been given assurances that he would remain team leader.

Tuesday's session in Tenerife marked the return to training for the Spanish rider after undergoing an operation on his nasal partition last week.

"We did two and a half hours on the mountains and I felt very good," he said, according to a statement released by his spokesman.

"I felt motivated and eager to start the season, like the rest of the team."

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