Andy Schleck adds Catalunya to race schedule
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Andy Schleck adds Catalunya to race schedule

by Ben Atkins at 11:05 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Volta a Catalunya
 

andy schleckAndy Schleck of Saxo Bank has become the latest big name rider to make adjustments to his spring schedule, opting to race next week’s Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. The Luxembourg champion was hit by a car in training last December; the accident has given him knee problems, affecting his preparation for his spring races.

He rode the Tirreno-Adriatico this week, finishing in the gruppetto each day. The objective there was not to get any results though, but to make sure his knee problems were over. “I know we did not take home any big results from Tirreno but that was never my objective,” he said. “For me it was all about getting through the race without feeling any pain and I was actually feeling stronger every day. It was a very tough course with numerous steep climbs and pulling through without knee problems was proof to me that I am right back on track,”

With his injury healed, Schleck now needs to build some racing form in time for the classics of the Ardennes, where both he and older brother Fränk excel. After Saturday’s Milano-Sanremo he will head to Spain for a week-long stage race. “According to the original plan I was not going to do the Vuelta a Catalunya,” he said, “but after talking to Bjarne [Riis] and Kim [Andersen] we agreed that the race contains a good amount of race kilometres and it will improve my preparations for the Ardennes Classics later on.

“I feel I am at the same level now as last year at this time and I am certain that I will be able to defend my title in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.”

The race organiser will doubtlessly be pleased that Schleck has decided to ride their race after the decision of Astana’s Alberto Contador to skip it.

With Contador the overwhelming favourite to retain his Tour de France title in July, the younger Schleck brother is probably number two. With few changes to the core of the Saxo Bank team, Schleck feels confident that he will be in an even stronger position this year.

“Team Saxo Bank is my second family and my best friends are on this team,” he said. “In addition, I am feeling more and more convinced that the team is stronger than last year and for that reason I am looking so much forward to this year's Tour de France where we have big plans.

“Before the Tour,” he continued, “we are going on training camps in the Alps, in the Pyrenees and we are going to pay the Belgian and Dutch roads a visit to get to know the course thoroughly. I am highly motivated and I am positive this year's Team Saxo Bank line-up is stronger than ever when we take on the Tour in July.”

Off the bike, the Schleck family is expecting a new arrival in May with Fränk’s wife Martine expecting a baby daughter. Something that Andy is very positive about.

“Fränk is naturally looking forward to being a dad,” he said, “but I sure am looking forward to being an uncle to a new princess in the Schleck-dynasty as well. I am just hoping to be around during the birth as I am riding Tour of California at that specific time,”

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