Schleck satisfied with Tour 2013 route, will race hard before it to be in sharp form
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Schleck satisfied with Tour 2013 route, will race hard before it to be in sharp form

by Shane Stokes at 1:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
More mountains and fewer time trials than in 2012 will psyche Luxembourg rider

Andy SchleckSecond overall in 2009, the winner the following year after Alberto Contador was disqualified and second again in 2011, Andy Schleck remains determined to top the podium in Paris, and not after the fact as was the case with the 2010 edition.

The Luxembourg rider has had a particularly tough season due to injury but expects to be back in track next season, ready to challenge once again in cycling’s biggest race. He liked what he saw today, considering the race hard enough to make an impression.

“I believe it's a really hard parcours,” the RadioShack Nissan rider said after attending the presentation in Paris. “It already starts in the first days, with the Grand Départ in Corsica. I know the roads there quite well, from racing the Critérium International, so I'm looking forward to it.

“After that we go back to the continent, have a TTT and then gradually move over to the Pyrenees, with two mountain stages. They are maybe not the hardest, but in the Tour every stage is important.”

Schleck is one of the very best climbers in the peloton and has identified the point at which he has to make a serious move towards the overall. “I see the Alps, and especially the 242 km stage to the Mont Ventoux as the key to win the race,” he explained. “I expect that the heat will be a factor on that stage. Overall, I think I can't complain about the parcours.”

That makes a change from this year’s course, which had an over-reliance on time trials and offered the climbers only three summit finishes to try to make up the difference. Schleck wasn’t happy when the route was unveiled, seeing right away that it would have been very difficult to overcome his weaknesses on that type of parcours, but as things turned out a bad crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné meant that he was sidelined for several months and missed out on taking part.

He gradually recovered and was able to complete several stages in the recent Tour of Beijing. His plan now is to train hard over the winter to ensure that he will begin the season in decent shape, then continue to build his condition prior to July.

RadioShack Nissan team manager Luca Guercilena also attended today’s presentation and gave the parcours a thumbs up afterwards. The route will offer a lot more to his rider, and the team will do what it can to help him arrive in Corsica prior to the race start in the best possible physical condition.

“This Tour, the 100th edition, is very well balanced between flat stages, mountain stages and time trials,” he said. “I believe it is a good Tour for Andy. The TT's are not too long, so he should be fine. There are 'only' four uphill finishes, but that doesn't mean the other stages are easy. A lot of stages have a lot of climbing and/or are really long. It will be a challenge for all!”

What is clear at this point is that Schleck has no inclination to give up cycling. His father Johny Schleck recently said that he hoped both of his sons would walk away, saying that Andy Schleck had suffered a lot because of the fracture to his pelvis, while Frank Schleck was under a cloud after testing positive in the Tour de France.

The latter’s future is uncertain at present as he is awaiting the outcome of a Luxembourg anti-doping hearing. Andy Schleck is however completely focussed on next season, saying that he will work hard to get back to his previous level.

“My injury is still not completely healed, but I can ride my bike relatively well. We'll see how it goes for the preparation for the Tour. I'll be racing a lot in order to be fit, that's certain.”

Inevitably, he was asked about one of the biggest topics of discussion at present: the Lance Armstrong guilty verdict, and the Texan’s lifetime ban from cycling.

Schleck accepts that the affair is a major deal, but asserts that things are much cleaner than before now, and that the media and others need to let the current crop of riders to race.

“What has happened in the past has been really bad. We cannot just put it aside. But on the other hand: most of these things are from the past and we need to draw a line,” he said. “The young generation, and I count myself in that, has nothing to do with this past and we are the victims of it, in a way.

“So I'm saying: let's not forget about what has happened, but let's take lessons from it and move on."

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