RadioShack Leopard to focus on ‘psychological recovery’ for Andy Schleck after Tirreno withdrawal
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Monday, March 11, 2013

RadioShack Leopard to focus on ‘psychological recovery’ for Andy Schleck after Tirreno withdrawal

by Shane Stokes at 9:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury, Tirreno-Adriatico
 
Team says it is now apparent that issues are more than just physical

Andy SchleckThe RadioShack Leopard team has said that it now accepts that it must work with Andy Schleck in relation to the psychological aspects of his recovery from injury, saying that his withdrawal from today’s penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico showed that his physical fitness is not the main issue.

“Since the whole injury that happened in 2012, we really focussed on the physical side of things and probably underestimated the psychological recovery that is also necessary,” a team spokesman told VeloNation today. “That is going to be our prime priority now.”

Schleck started today’s stage a respectable 84th out of 163 riders, 32 minutes 27 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky). While he’s still a long way off the form which earned him the 2010 Tour de France title plus runner-up slots in 2009 and 2011, there was little to indicate that he would not complete the race.

However he dropped out early on during the 209 kilometre Porto Sant'Elpidio stage, cracking and deciding enough was enough.

Schleck crashed heavily during last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné, fracturing his sacrum. He was in pain for several months and withdrew from a succession of races. He seemed to have turned a corner recently when he completed the GP Città di Camaiore, finishing his first full UCI race since before his crash.

And while RadioShack Leopard team director Dirk Demol said that Schleck had a lot of fear while riding in the peloton and needed to get his courage back, his team believed that he was on course to finish the Tirreno Adriatico. That has not now proven to be the case.

“I think a fear of descending might be an issue for him, but as far as I know today he was dropped on a climb,” the team spokesman told VeloNation today. “So it’s not just that.

“This is really sad to see. Okay, it is an incredibly hard stage, but it is hard for everyone. Physically he is getting better every day, but we really need to focus on the psychological side now.”

Pressed as to what were the issues, he wasn’t specific. “I’m not a psychologist and it’s hard to tell. But we believe the problem is more than physical. Andy has been out of racing for a very long time and there are several things to deal with.”

His elder brother Frank is currently suspended from competition as a result of a positive test for a diuretic in last year’s Tour de France, but the spokesman played down any suggestion that his absence is the reason why Andy Schleck is struggling. “They like to race together, obviously, but I don’t think that is a significant part of the problem.

“We still believe very much in what Andy has done in the past and what he can do again. We will support him completely in his recovery, and believe he can come back.”

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