Frank Schleck gains confidence after twelfth in Amstel Gold Race
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Frank Schleck gains confidence after twelfth in Amstel Gold Race

by Kyle Moore at 5:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 
Former Amstel winner happy to be with lead group on Cauberg

Frank SchleckTrying to put the disappointing cobbled Classics season behind them, Radioshack-Nissan have picked up a solid start to the Ardennes season after Frank Schleck came home twelfth at the top of the Cauberg on Sunday.

The team came in to the race riding a streak of bad luck and without many positive results, and while a finish just outside the top ten won’t cure all ills, Schleck viewed it as a step in the right direction for he and his team.

Enrico Gasparatto (Astana) took the Amstel Gold victory ahead of Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), but it was a group of about twenty that contested the finish together after the leading trio had reeled in a late attack by Oscar Freire (Katusha).

Moving toward the finish, a headwind kept Freire from getting too much of an advantage, and it may have also helped keep things together off the penultimate climb of the day, benefitting riders like Schleck.

“I had a bad position going into the Eysenbosweg [the penultimate climb – ed.], but there was really no attack there,” Schleck said after the race. “So it ended up being a big group at the end. I felt good, my legs were in good shape. In the sprint I had a little cramp so I didn’t have the punch I needed but it was good for my confidence and I think I was one of the strongest riders today.”

While Frank took a solid placing, brother Andy did not fare as well, and while he was able to finish the race, repeating the Liege-Bastogne-Liege podium finishes of a year ago seems unlikely. Frank’s younger brother crossed the line 91st, in a group five minutes and 39 seconds in arrears.

But Frank indicated that his brother performed well in his job for the day.

“Andy rode to protect me all day and he did a really good job,” Frank added. “His shape is definitely improving. In fact all of the team worked hard all day and there was great teamwork here. I am looking forward to next week. Joost [Posthuma] and Laurent [Didier] worked so hard. Whatever Laurent had for breakfast, I want to have the same for the next races.”

A breakaway did get away in dreary weather conditions, and trying to set up the elder Schleck, Radioshack-Nissan put riders on the front of the peloton, as they had no representation in the break.

“It was a cold start this morning and very, very hectic,” remarked Posthuma. “There were so many attacks before a group finally went. We didn’t have a guy there so we had to chase. We took the responsibility to do that. There was a lot of wind but it was an advantage to be in the front. With so many turns and also the wind, it was good to be in the front to take the corners at our own speed.

Team director Kim Anderson summed up his mixed feelings about his Radioshack-Nissan squad’s performance.

“The end results for the team weren’t exceptional since we had a plan to be there for the win,” stated Andersen. “With that in mind, we were in the front when the break went away. We only used two guys, saving six others. But as the race unfolded we saw only Frank was super strong today.

“It was weird to see so many sprinting for the victory at the end. I’m happy about Frank’s condition. He wanted to be in good shape and we see that he is looking good. We don't expect more from Andy at this point.”

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