Andy Schleck: “The Tour next year is for me."
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Andy Schleck: “The Tour next year is for me."

by Ben Atkins at 5:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Elder brother Fränk has no fear of the cobbles as the Luxemburgers prepare for their comeback

andy schleckAndy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) seems to be one of the happiest Tour de France contenders, following the presentation of the race’s 2014 route. The 28-year-old Luxemburger, who was eventually awarded victory in the 2010 edition after Alberto Contador’s Clenbuterol positive, is especially pleased by the five summit finishes, as well as the fact that there will be just 54km against the clock in the entire three week race.

“It's a route with very little time trialling, which reminds me of a past Tour,” Schleck said in Wort.lu, perhaps referring to that 2010 edition, whose 52km penultimate day’s stage was the only one against the clock save for a short prologue. “I’m looking to find to old my form, and I'm certain I can go all the way.

“The Tour next year is for me."

One thing to have worried many of the race’s favourites has been the inclusion of 15.4km of the notorious Pavé du Nord, as normally experienced in April’s Paris-Roubaix. The younger of the two Schleck brothers is unfazed by this, however, since the last time the Tour crossed these roads he made significant gains on many of his overall rivals.

"Even ahead of the cobblestone passages I have no fear,” Schleck said. “In 2010, I came away from the events of the stage more than honourably."

For Schleck, who missed the 2012 Tour through injury, and rode this year’s race largely anonymously,

"On Sunday if the sun is out I will start the first kilometre in preparation for next year. I will give it full throttle."

The 2014 Tour should see Andy Schleck race alongside elder brother Fränk for the first time since the 2011 edition, when they stood either side of Australian Cadel Evans on the final podium, as they finished in second and third place.

Andy’s injury, sustained in the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné, meant that he was not in the team when Fränk tested positive for banned diuretic Xipanide in that year’s Tour. The elder brother was not offered a new contract with RadioShack-Leopard when his one-year ban ended this July, but he will join Andy - and many other riders from the Luxembourg-registered team - at the new Trek Factory Racing team in 2014.

"Fränk and I will now make a new start,” said Andy. “The second phase of our career is beginning. I'm optimistic and I have already proved in the past that I have the motor for taking great victories."

For his part, Fränk is also looking forward to returning to the race that he left somewhat ignominiously in 2012, despite having more to fear than most from the cobbles of stage five. In 2010, the then Luxembourg champion came down hard on the stones of Sars-et-Rosières, and shattered his collarbone.

Ironically, the incident was what caused the split at the front of the peloton that Andy eventually benefited from; even with that memory, however, Fränk Schleck is as confident as his younger brother.

"That is past. I have long since finished with this topic,” he said yesterday, according to Wort.lu. “I am pleased that [the Tour] goes over the cobblestones, again next year. I will be able to take my revenge. I certainly respect the Pavé, but I feel no fear.

“I am looking forward to it immensely,” he said of the Tour’s route. “I am very pleasantly surprised. Even though I’ve not yet looked at the route in detail, I know the big climbs.

The fact that there is only one time trial means that me and my brother Andy will naturally be in contention,” he added. “Especially as in a time trial at the very end of a three week Tour, fatigue plays a crucial role and the distances among the favourites should not be extremely large. We will prepare optimally, visit the stages and then attack it full on. Motivation could hardly be greater for Andy and me.”

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