Schlecks make the Tour an historic family affair
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Friday, July 4, 2008

Schlecks make the Tour an historic family affair

by Agence France-Presse at 3:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Luxembourg brothers Andy and Frank Schleck are set to make a little piece of cycling history when they saddle up for the Tour de France with big ambitions for the race here on Saturday. Both riders are part of the Danish CSC team whose official yellow jersey contender is Spaniard Carlos Sastre. However CSC have admitted that the Schlecks, whose father Johnny raced at the Tour in his day, will be used to spearhead CSC's yellow jersey bid in the event Sastre fails to deliver.

On paper CSC look to be one of the strongest of the 20 teams at the Tour, and with the Schleck option have a "major advantage" over their rivals, according to Australian Stuart O'Grady. "With Carlos, Andy and Frank we've really got a three-pronged attack," the Australian, who crashed survived career-threatening injuries from a terrible crash in last year's race, told AFP. "Especially with Andy. He's cool-headed, he's young and he's ambitious. I think he's a name everyone will be talking about at the Tour in the future."

Andy, 23, will race his first Tour but comes into the race with a fair pedigree having shown his stage racing prowess with a runner-up place at last year's Giro d'Italia behind Danilo Di Luca. Older brother Frank has more Tour experience than Andy, staking his claim to fame in 2006 when he won a prestigious climber's stage to the summit of Alpe d'Huez. Although having raced together on many occasions, it was not until this year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic that the Schlecks - as a family unit - came to the wider world's attention. Both were actively involved in the finale of the tough Belgian classic, but failed to get the better of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who claimed his second Liege crown ahead of Italian Davide Rebellin. Frank finished just behind in third, with Andy crossing the line 30secs later. "That was the moment that really gave us shivers for the first time, as a family," said Frank Schleck, who turned professional two years before his brother.

The Tour de France has seen several brotherly combinations over the years, including Prudencio Indurain, the brother of Spain's five-time champion Miguel. Currently, French brother Sylvain and Sebastien Chavanel are racing at the Tour, for the Cofidis and teams respectively. But it is the first time ever that two siblings have started the Tour with a chance of stepping up to the podium. Andy is confident they can put on a good show, but he is keeping talk of the yellow jersey to a minimum. "Even though I finished the Giro in second place last year, I don't really see myself as a favourite here. It's my first Tour and it's all about gaining experience," he said. He added, however: "We'll be there in the mountains and we'll be showing what we can do. The fact that we're brothers is really just a bonus."

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