Johan Bruyneel “disappointed” with Fränk Schleck’s Giro exit
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Johan Bruyneel “disappointed” with Fränk Schleck’s Giro exit

by Ben Atkins at 8:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia
 
Luxembourg champion has “let the team down” says RadioShack-Nissan manager; no one is guaranteed a Tour spot

johan bruyneelThe uneasy alliance between RadioShack-Nissan team manager Johan Bruyneel, and the Schleck brothers showed itself this weekend, after Fränk Schleck quit the Giro d’Italia just 28km into the 15th stage. The Luxembourg champion had complained of shoulder pain after reportedly dislocating it in a crash on stage 11 but, after finishing in the group of overall favourites in the uphill finish to Cervinia on stage 14, his abandon came as a surprise to his team manager.

“[Sunday] morning, it did not look like he would stop. He might have had an injury to his shoulder, but yesterday he finished with the best,” Bruyneel told Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt. “So his physical condition could not have been bad, when he rides with the top 10 places.”

Schleck’s reason for abandoning was simple and, while he had managed to hang in there at the end of stage 14, his injury had caused him discomfort in other areas. “My right shoulder has been hurt and dislocated and since I was sitting wrong on the bike my entire left side is numb,” he explained on the team’s website.

Bruyneel however, is not convinced of that, as he explained to Tageblatt.

“I don’t think his injury was bad enough to abandon the race,” he said “I am very disappointed that he has given up. I am especially disappointed that he has given up and that he has let the team down. It’s not possible to insist he continues the Giro.”

“I hope very much that he has not done it without reason, that would not be good.”

It had been rumoured that Schleck’s withdrawal was premeditated, and that the Luxembourg champion had always intended to give up on Sunday; or at least give up on today’s rest day. It was even suggested by Christiano Gatti on tuttobiciweb that the proximity of Sunday’s Busto Arsizio stage start to Milano Malpensa airport had made his mind up for him.

This is, of course, something that Schleck has denied.

“I have also heard that, and I asked him [yesterday] if it was true,” said Bruyneel. “He has denied it to me, he said that it’s not true.”

While he is disappointed with his rider’s decision however, he does understand how much a change of morale could have affected Schleck’s race.

“He had all the opportunities to ride a good race,” Bruyneel said. “For a while that was the case. After the team time trial his morale was good, but after his crash he was broken down in the head; riders are not machines.”

frank schleckNow out of the Giro, RadioShack-Nissan needs to think about the immediate future for one of its Tour de France captains. Bruyneel states however that nobody, not even last year’s podium finishers, are guaranteed a spot in the team come July.

“After this we need to change his programme,” he said. “He will now go to the Tour de Luxembourg and then Tour de Suisse.

“[The Tour de France] is still a long way off. Currently none of the team is at the level that we expected. Only Fabian Cancellara was, before he crashed; all the others have under performed. Currently there isn’t a single rider set for the Tour de France.

“Nobody.”

The merger of the top talents of the Leopard Trek and RadioShack teams of 2011 looked, on paper, like an unbeatable dream team for 2012, but things have far from worked out that way. So far, the team’s only victories this season have been through Cancellara, in the Strade Bianche and the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial. The team has come close in some races - including Horner’s second overall in Tirreno - but Bruyneel knows that words need to be said to get the superteam back on track.

“We need to sit down and talk together,” he said. “I have to say some things internally. I’m very dissatisfied; what is it today” May 20th. And what is our balance? Zero. It is zero, and that needs to change. It is our responsibility to see that changes.

“In order for a team to function, and for results to come, first and foremost its leader, its captain, must ride well. You must show yourself as leader, and we haven’t seen that yet this season. Except maybe Chris Horner in races like Tirreno-Adriatico.”

With the team coming away from the Tour of California empty handed - with Horner managing only eighth in his big target for this spring - and with its general classification rider, and big sprinter now out of the Giro, prospects for the rest of May do not look rosy for RadioShack-Nissan.

The next races in Luxembourg, Suisse, and the Critérium du Dauphiné will be vital to restore a little morale ahead of the Tour de France.

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