McEwen believes time trials rule Schlecks out of Tour contention
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Friday, December 30, 2011

McEwen believes time trials rule Schlecks out of Tour contention

by VeloNation Press at 9:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Nominates five riders who he believes can finish ahead of them

Robbie McEwenSecond overall for the past three years, Andy Schleck has made it clear that once again he will target victory in the Tour de France in 2012. Veteran Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen believes the task will be an extremely difficult one, though, saying that both Schleck and his brother Frank will struggle to contend next July.

“The Schlecks are really at a disadvantage with their lack of time trialling ability. That makes it very, very difficult for them next year,” he told AAP.

Andy Schleck wore the yellow jersey heading into the final time trial in the 2011 edition of the race, starting the stage with a 57 second advantage over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team). The latter scorched the course, finishing second on the stage, seven seconds behind Tony Martin (HTC Highroad).

Schleck dug in deep and tried to use the Maillot Jaune as motivation, but was two minutes 38 seconds back in seventeeth place, losing the Tour. His brother Frank was three seconds and three places further back, ending up third on the final podium in Paris.

Next year’s Tour has far greater demands in terms of time trials, featuring three separate individual races against the clock rather than the one of 2011. There’s a prologue of 6.1 kilometres, plus two time trials of 38 and 52 kilometres. That makes for 96.1 kilometres of individual effort.

As a result, McEwen believes the riders who can perform well against the clock will have a clear advantage.

“I would say the main contenders when you look at the course - those two long time trials - are Cadel, Wiggo [Bradley Wiggins] and Contador.

“You never know, maybe a guy like (Germany's) Tony Martin also and I wouldn't completely discount (American) Levi Leipheimer - they're my five guys.”

With just three summit finishes in the race, he firmly believes that the Schlecks will find it very tough indeed to battle for yellow.

While McEwen is a sprinter, he has ridden twelve Tours and is one of the most experienced riders in the peloton. He has clocked up twelve stage wins plus three green jerseys as best sprinter.

He is heading into his final season in the peloton, racing with the GreenEdge team until just before the Tour, then switching to an off-bike guiding role.

The Schlecks will be riding as part of the RadioShack-Nissan team in 2012, and will be guided by Johan Bruyneel. He’s won the Tour with Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador but, if McEwen is correct, will have to wait until 2013 before he can oversee a Schleck victory in Paris.


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