British cycling champion Bradley Wiggins does not believe Lance Armstrong rode clean in the 2009 Tour de France – a counter claim to the American’s insistence he never doped after 2005.
Wiggins, the reigning Tour de France champion, has spoken about the 2009 race when he watched Armstrong with disbelief and thought to himself: “You lying bastard”.
Armstrong just beat Wiggins to a podium finish that year, behind Spanish winner Alberto Contador - who has previously been sanctioned for doping - and runner-up Andy Schleck.
Armstrong, now disqualified from the results that year, finished 5 minutes 24 seconds behind Contador. Schleck was 4 minutes 11 seconds behind the winning time and Wiggins was originally fourth, at 6 minutes 01 seconds, but has been upgraded to third since Armstrong’s lifetime ban from the sport.
In Adelaide racing at the Tour Down Under this week, Schleck said he believed Armstrong’s assertion he raced clean in his comeback and cited the fact he had managed to beat him in the 2009 Tour de France.
Wiggins has said previously that he would be furious if it was proved Armstrong had doped in the 2009 Tour, but at a team SKY training camp said he did not believe Armstrong’s claims that he didn’t take banned drugs after returning to the sport in 2009.
Referring to the moment in Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey where the ex-cyclist insisted he swore off banned drugs after retiring for the first time, Wiggins said: "That was the thing that upset me the most about 2009 and 2010. I thought you lying bastard. I can still remember going toe-to-toe with him, watching him and his body language. The man I saw [in the 2009 Tour, struggling] at the top of Verbier in 2009 to the man I saw on the top of Ventoux … wasn't the same bike rider.
“Watch the videos and see the way the guy was riding. I just don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth anymore.”
It was on the penultimate stage of the 2009 Tour, including the legendary climb of Mont Ventoux, when Armstrong gained a crucial 22-seconds on Wiggins. On the earlier summit finish at Verbier Wiggins had gained 29 seconds on Armstrong.
Wiggins said he felt no sympathy for Armstrong and found his selective confession that was televised last week "difficult to watch’’.
‘‘Watching him cave in after lying so convincingly. It's heartbreaking for the sport, but then the anger kicks in.
“In the end I felt he deserved everything he gets. I felt no sympathy for him whatsoever."
Schleck, in contrast, said this week he believed Armstrong.
“He made his comeback and he was beaten in the first year by Alberto and me.
"So, in my eyes, I was clean. I know I was always a clean rider and I keep on riding clean. So why should he be behind me?” he said.
"I believe in his comeback that he was clean."