Tour de France: Schleck takes advantage of suitable time trial
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tour de France: Schleck takes advantage of suitable time trial

by Kyle Moore at 2:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Luxembourger and team-mate Monfort take top 15 places

Andy SchleckPredicted rainstorms occurred but had little impact on the standings at the conclusion of the stage 17 time trial from Embrun to Chorges, and it was the climbers and general classification men who still shined through.

Among them were Radioshack-Leopard team-mates Andy Schleck and Maxime Monfort, who both secured top 15 spots on a highly competitive day. Monfort was 12th, finishing 2’17” behind stage winner and overall leader Chris Froome (Sky Procycling). And producing one of the rides of the day was Schleck, who was 15th, a further ten seconds behind Monfort.

Schleck has been an easy target for criticism for more than a calendar year, as he has struggled to find form after returning from injury. Though he has sometimes been a shell of the rider he was several seasons ago, Schleck flashed his climbing legs on Wednesday’s hilly time trial, and gave plenty of indication that he will look to use them again during tomorrow’s queen stage.

“I started really fast but I knew also that the downhill was wet so I’d have to be careful. But I was lucky because by the time I got there, the last part was already drying. On the last climb I gave everything. My legs were not bad today and I hope they will be even better tomorrow,” Schleck stated on the team website.

Previously in his career, Schleck has lost much because of his struggles with the race against the watch, including the overall in the 2011 Tour de France, which he surrendered to Cadel Evans. Granted, the hilly trip to Chorges was a route much more suited to his abilities, but Schleck seemed both surprised and encouraged by his effort.

“My best time trial was in Austria when I was a junior rider so I’m quite satisfied about today and I’m very motivated for tomorrow,” Schleck explained. “I didn’t expect to do well today, but I started out fast, took a little off the pace in the middle and then went full gas again at the end. I was excited to pass Rui Costa in front of me. I never thought that would be possible in my life.”

Schleck moves up to 16th overall after the stage, one spot behind Monfort. The Belgian, like many others, experienced patches of wet at different sections of the course. Overall, he felt he had played the route strategically to his advantage.

“I knew the top of the second climb was not really the top and that it was still three kilometres uphill, so I saved my energy for those five minutes,” Monfort elaborated. “That was the key point of the race. This was a course that suited me. It’s a pity that the first downhill was wet. I didn’t change my bike like some riders did. We have our Trek engineer here who calculated it would not give me a gain. I feel good for the upcoming hard days.”

Even with the solid performances of Schleck and Monfort, Radioshack-Leopard surrendered the lead in the teams classification back to Saxo-Tinkoff, which got good rides from Alberto Contador, Roman Kreuziger, and Michael Rogers. Radioshack-Leopard gave back 4’33” to Saxo-Tinkoff for the stage, dropping to an overall deficit of 1’22”. The battle should continue through the final mountain stages, with tomorrow’s feature of two climbs of Alpe d’Huez said to be in jeopardy if it rains again. There is talk of the stage being shortened to just one ascent.

“If the conditions are bad it will only make sense to not go downhill on the other side so we’ll see. I hadn’t heard that they might make the change. Froome is the strongest so it doesn’t really matter if we go up one time or twice,” Schleck added flatly.


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