Fränk Schleck looks back on his victory at the Tour de Suisse
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Fränk Schleck looks back on his victory at the Tour de Suisse

by Jered Gruber at 1:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Dedicates win to fallen compatriot, Kim Kirchen

Fränk Schleck continued his impressive June run with one of the biggest victories of his career on Sunday: the overall at the Tour de Suisse. His victory margin of 12 seconds over seven-time Tour de France champion was a narrow one, and further confirmation that both he and his brother Andy will be at full force come the start of the Tour de France in less than two weeks.

The elder Schleck brother enjoyed a solid 2010 campaign up until June, but once the sixth month of the year rolled around, the former Luxembourg champion kicked into high gear. 8th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, 7th at the Amstel Gold Race, and 3rd at the Klasika Primavera were all good results for the first part of the season, but a stage win and 2nd overall at the Tour of Luxembourg followed by a stage win and the overall at the Tour de Suisse pushed Schleck's season to the next level.

Following his great time trial, which netted him the overall in Liestal, Fränk was asked if his victory today came as a surprise. The former Amstel Gold champion replied, "Yes, of course, because I am not a specialist in the chrono. Andy and I have practiced this year though. There was no stress today, I just wanted to do a good test against the clock before the Tour de France. It went well!"

Had today's stage not gone as well as it did, Fränk would have left the Tour de Suisse a happy man, but to take the overall win made for a very special occasion for the new father.

"I won a stage already, so this has been a great race for me. Many legends and great champions have won the Tour of Switzerland. It will take me a few more days to realize everything."

In the midst of the post-race press conference, Schleck did not forget about his fallen countryman, Kim Kirchen, who is still in an induced coma following an apparent heart attack.

"First, I have to dedicate this victory to Kim Kirchen. Andy, my wife, and I hope that it will get better for him soon. I think of him."

Following his great performance in his national tour, Schleck came to the Tour de Suisse with only modest ambitions. Like most of the Tour de France hopefuls, he was looking to push his form that last bit further, but with really no pressure for the overall. Fast forward nine stages and Schleck is the Tour de Suisse champion, followed by none other than Lance Armstrong, and his teammate, Jakob Fuglsang, rounded out the podium in third.

"Last week I said: 'I'll go to the Tour of Switzerland, but I'll be relaxed ahead of the Tour de France.' Then, I won a stage, I was fourth overall for several days, then came the last day, and there we said, 'I'm fourth, I cannot give up today.' So I tried. And it worked."

Last year's Tour de France was a mixed bag for Fränk Schleck. He managed a fantastic stage win in the Alps, but according to his teammate, Jens Voigt, he was nowhere near his best at last year's Tour. This year looks to be an entirely different story though. Andy showed some bright signs of form in the mountains of Switzerland, whilst Fränk showed that he's back to the level that gave him wins at Amstel Gold and Alpe d'Huez.

"For the Tour de France, of course it gives me confidence. We also saw Andy riding very, very strong, and his attack on the sixth stage to the Albulapass was very, very strong. We'll be there for the Tour de France for the biggest challenge of the year."

Schleck was quick to give a nod to the former leader heading into Stage 9's time trial, Robert Gesink. "Robert has made great progress. This morning, I thought he would win the Tour of Switzerland. He is one of the riders I most admire, because he knows how to hurt and suffer. He will be a serious contender for the Tour de France."

When asked about Lance Armstrong, the reply was just about what anyone would say at this point: "Lance, there is not much to say, he is strong in all areas."

For the greater part of this season, most commentary has been not whether Alberto Contador would win the Tour de France, but by how many days. Contador will still start in Rotterdam as the overwhelming favorite, but now, the presence of a 100% fit Schleck Duo could at least make it a real game for the four-time and counting Grand Tour champion from Spain.



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