Schleck satisfied with first mountain stage: ‘There are good moments to come in this Tour’
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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Schleck satisfied with first mountain stage: ‘There are good moments to come in this Tour’

by VeloNation Press at 5:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Former race winner continues to build form with respectable climbing performance

Andy SchleckPreviously a winner plus twice second overall in the Tour de France, Andy Schleck has said that he was satisfied with his performance today in the race, saying that it reflected the improvement he has made in recent months.

The RadioShack Leopard rider finished 21st on the stage, three minutes 34 seconds behind the solo winner Chris Froome (Sky). He’s clearly still some way off his best, but he insisted that he sees the day as a step forward.

“I had to let them go, but I was happy to be in that small group at the bottom of the last climb. The rhythm was a bit too hard for me, though; I can’t deny that,” he said afterwards. “I decided immediately to do the climb in my own pace. Some people hoped for a ‘from zero to hero’ moment from me but we didn’t get this scenario. I will not win this TDF but I knew before the start I was not a favourite. There are still good moments to come in this Tour.”

Schleck has not been near his top level since the 2011 Tour de France, where he led into the penultimate stage but ultimately finished second overall to Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team). He had a quiet spring last year, then crashed heavily in the Critérium du Dauphiné, fracturing his pelvis.

Since then he has had a long and slow road back to form, being forced to take time completely off the bike and then struggling to complete the first races he competed in. Those DNFs continued into this year, but more recently he has been showing better form.

Today’s ride is in some ways encouraging for him, although he clearly must feel frustrated to not be riding like he was in previous Tours.

According to team director Kim Andersen, he should be pleased with what he has done. “To be honest, even though we weren’t in the front I am quite happy. From where Andy was two or three months ago, this is such an improvement. Of course he could be better, but he could also be so much worse.”

He said that he hoped that his improvement will continue in the race. The Vuelta a España is expected to be his season goal but if he can put in one or two strong performances before the end of the Tour, it would be a huge boost to his morale.

Schleck said he gave ‘big respect’ to Sky for the team’s performance today, but also suggested that being in such strong form now might lead to quieter performances later.

“They were impressive and deserved this victory, but this is just the first of the mountain stages. The Tour is still long,” he said. “They can pay later for what they do now.”

He also cautioned that people shouldn’t necessarily judge Alberto Contador on the one minute 51 seconds he lost, saying that heat, allergies and the fact that it is the first mountain stage could all be factors.

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