Tour de Suisse: Leopard Trek ready to defend Frank Schleck's title
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tour de Suisse: Leopard Trek ready to defend Frank Schleck's title

by Xylon van Eyck at 6:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Suisse
 
Strong field lines out in pre-Tour de France event

Frank SchleckFour-time World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara will be the favourite for the Tour de Suisse prologue today but the ultimate goal for Leopard Trek is to get Andy and Frank Schleck in top shape for the Tour de France.

The mountainous race is the last of two traditional warm up events for Tour favourites, with the Schleck brothers opting to defend Frank’s title in Switzerland instead of riding the Critérium du Dauphiné like many other favourites.

Schleck was a surprise winner last year, producing a solid final time trial to finish 13th. He was just five seconds behind Lance Armstrong, who was tipped as a possible winner going into the race against the clock. The RadioShack rider finished second overall, twelve seconds back, with Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) a further five seconds behind in third.

In what is sure to be a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, Leopard Trek has sent a strong team to the race. This years parcours includes four mountaintop finishes, and this should suit the Schlecks.

“Frank and Andy thrive on climbs like these,” said Sports Director Torsten Schmidt. “Jakob [Fuglsang] has also been climbing really well. Linus [Gerdmann] won the overall in Luxembourg and is obviously in good condition. Maxime [Monfort] will also be there for support on the climbs. Jens [Voigt] and Stuart [O’Grady] contribute invaluable leadership qualities.”

Cancellara, who won the overall race in 2009, will again have his chance to fine-tune himself in the final stage, a 32km time-trial in Schaffhausen.

“Fabian has shown true motivation for the two time trials. The team is well prepared. They have had a good week of racing and training together in Luxembourg. We are ready to go,” commented Schmidt.

Stiff competition is bound to come from RadioShack leaders Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden. The team this week announced that Chris Horner won’t be taking part as originally scheduled, opting rather to train at home in America.

Kloden has had a particularly successful 2011 season thus far, with five victories to the 35 year old’s credit. Team RadioShack dominated the recent Tour of California with Horner and Leipheimer taking first and second place in the overall classification.

Other noticeable inclusions in the line up for the Tour de Suisse is Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) who last week announced his ambitions for the Tour de France. Tejay van Garderen (HTC Highroad), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Soler) and Juan Mauricio Soler (Movistar) are also bound to make it an exciting race in the mountains.

There will be three possible days for the sprinters. The much-talked about duel between former team-mates Mark Cavendish (HTC Highroad) and André Greipel (Omega Pharma Lotto) will come to fruition in what is to be an appetizer for the Tour. Garmin-Cervélo are also sending world champion Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler, while Matthew Goss (HTC Highroad), Greg Henderson (Sky Procycling), Francisco Ventoso (Team Movistar), Robbie Hunter and Robbie McEwen (both RadioShack) will be other riders to watch on the flat stages.

“We know this will be a competitive race, and we have ambitions for top results. We go to Switzerland confident, happy and ready to race,” pledged Schmidt.



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Tour de Suisse, Switzerland (WorldTour), June 11 to 19:

Stage 1, June 11: Lugano, 7.1 km
Stage 2, June 12: Airolo to Crans-Montana, 149 km
Stage 3, June 13: Brig-Glis to Grindelwald, 107.6 km
Stage 4, June 14: Grindelwald to Huttwil, 198.4 km
Stage 5, June 15: Huttwil to Tobel-Tägerschen, 204.2 km
Stage 6, June 16: Tobel-Tägerschen to Triesenberg/Malbun, 157.7 km
Stage 7, June17: Vaduz to Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, 222.8 km
Stage 8, June 18: Tübach to Schaffhausen, 167.3 km
Stage 9, June 19: Schaffhausen, 32.1 km

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