- Andy Schleck
July 29, 2010, 10:31 BST,
July 29, 2010, 11:43 BST
Andy's already talking about winning next year
When I was a young lad my maths teacher asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was 14 and thought I knew it all. At that age studying took a back seat and when you're in love with cycling as much I as was back then, there's only one distraction on your mind: Girls.
I digress. So, for whatever reason the teacher pulled me up for misbehaving in class and when he asked, I replied, 'win the Tour de France.'
"Well Andy, you win the Tour and I'll come to Paris to see you in yellow and then walk back to Luxembourg. Until then behave in my class and study hard. Do we have a deal?"
This summer, my old maths teacher was a pretty nervous guy. He still teaches at the same school and everyone there knows about our agreement. 'Got your walking boots ready, sir? Hope you're feeling fit...' He'd been watching the television coverage throughout the race.
Well, in the end my teacher got off and didn't have to walk the 400-plus kilometres back home, but there's always next year and I hope to see him in Paris with his walking shoes!
It was a pretty hard Tour but I hope that everyone who watched it at the side of the road, on the television or the internet, enjoyed the action. Right now I'm sitting on a bed in a hotel room in Eindhoven. Jakob Fulgsang is lying on a bed next to me and we're about to get up and head to a post-Tour criterium.
Tomorrow I'll head home and do a criterium there, too. The post-crit series are almost obligatory for riders who've performed well at the Tour. They're fast and furious but a lot of fun. They're a great way of getting closer to the public, which is something I really enjoy. At the Tour you've got to be totally focussed and can't stop for autographs and photos as much as you'd like to, but at the crits the atmosphere is far more relaxed.
I'll also be riding San Sebastian on the weekend, while I can also confirm that I'll be riding the Vuelta alongside my brother Fränk. I rode part of the race last year but had to pull out through illness. This year I'll go in with a relaxed mood but hope to still have some of my form from the Tour. Fränk could do a very good ride there so I'll be trying to support him as much as I can.
But before I get ready for the Vuelta I'm in desperate need of some me-time. I'm going to take few days off when I get home and shut myself away from the outside world. The Tour is just one big stress-fest with action from start to finish so I'm looking forward to sitting back and doing what I want for a change. Maybe I'll go fishing, maybe I'll just sit around and chill out, I really don't know but the mere thought of kicking back without a plan makes me smile.
I guess I should talk about what happened at the Tour in a bit more detail. You've probably seen me on TV or read my comments in the press enough already but I want to say a couple of things. The first is a big thank you to my team. There was lots of speculation at this year's race with regards to next year, but everyone on the team from the riders, to the cooks, to the management all acted in a really professional way. The team were fantastic in supporting me and I have to say a big thank you to them publicly.
The best moment for me personally at the Tour has to be when I took the yellow jersey. I've won big races before and been on many podium but pulling on that yellow jersey was such a special moment. It brought me to a place I've never been before.
When I was that young kid in school the Tour was all about the yellow jersey. I used to ride home from class pretending I was wearing it, sprinting up climbs as if they were the Tourmalet. The day I pulled on yellow is a day I'll never forget.
Moving to the final time trial before Paris I knew that I could ride a good stage. I think the course suited me in the sense that it was constant, even if it was pancake-flat.
When I heard that I was just a couple of seconds down on the jersey I knew I was close, I gave it everything, thinking about how it felt pulling on yellow, how deflated I felt when I lost it, and my mind flicking back to when I was kid and pretending to race in yellow. In the end Alberto just went fast. He's a lot more aerodynamic than me but I believed in myself until the end.
Next year I can turn the tables and win the Tour. I did a bad prologue this year and I have to admit that, but Fränk crashing out was a big loss. If there were two of us in the mountains it could have been so different. But now I know that I can beat Alberto and that gives me huge confidence and motivation for next year.
Who knows, maybe my maths teacher will have to do the long walk after all...
- Cycling News
July 02, 2010, 14:50 BST,
July 02, 2010, 16:20 BST
Andy blogs from the team presentation
I’m writing this with the team presentation less than 15 minutes away and boy am I excited about this year’s Tour de France. All the riders are here, ready to be called up and paraded in front of the Dutch public as we bring up the curtain on this year’s race. Over on the right is Alberto Contador – we had a good chat early today. On the left are the RadioShack boys, but I’ve not seen Lance yet, and in front of me my Saxo Bank friends and teammates.
In fact all the riders are here. I’ve been asked by the media to rate all the favourites for the race. It’s not something I really like to do. I mean you don’t want to forget anyone or put someone’s nose out of joint but one guy I think who could reach the podium is Robert
Gesink. He was superb in the Tour de Suisse and the route this year suits him very well.
There are a lot of climbs and the Pyrenees – where the Tour will surely be won – are ideal for a rider like him. I’m not trying to put pressure on him and or play mind games but he can reach the podium. I really think he can do it.
On the subject of Rabobank, you can’t forget a rider like Denis Menchov. He wasn’t good in last year’s race but he’s won three Grand Tours and knows how to step up. Lance and Alberto will be there for sure too. Cadel and Ivan both did the Giro and Ivan is looking thin and very strong. As for Wiggins, I’m not sure. He put in a great ride last year but I think it will be hard for him this year. It’s a much tougher route that last year and the climbs will be savage. He looked ok in the Giro though and apparently he’s very strong now, so I can’t count him out.
On a personal level I’m just really happy to be here. It’s my third Tour and in the first two we started in Brest and then Monaco. Rotterdam is totally different. It’s not as ‘bling’ or glamorous as Monaco but it’s nicer than Brest. The best aspect of the city is the sheer number of cyclists I’ve seen. Here bikes out-number cars and it’s a fantastic endorsement for cycling and the Tour.
I’d better go. We’re being asked to get into our kit and go on stage now. Talking of kits, there are quite a few new ones here. The Cervelo boys are wearing a new white and grey ensemble and the Française des Jeux guys have updated theirs too. Hopefully in three weeks time I’ll be wearing a different colour kit in Paris too.
- Cycling News
June 29, 2010, 20:53 BST,
June 29, 2010, 21:58 BST
Andy's ready to take on the Tour de France
In just four days the first rider will roll down the start house at the Tour de France, in Rotterdam. There will be great crowds and even greater pressure as months of tension, preparation and effort euphorically explode with each pedal stroke. The Tour is upon us.
And it's upon me too. There is pressure on my shoulders, I'm one of the favourites – as so many keep of you keep reminding me – but I'm relaxed and calm. My preparation has been very good – not excellent – but my form is coming and by the time the race hits the Pyrenees in four weeks time, I'll hope to be in the form of my life.
As a rider in the pro ranks you have to handle pressure, it's part of the job description, part of the ethos of being a rider in the spotlight. Thankfully, I've got some really good people around me: there are my teammates, the team staff, and of course my brother, who I hope will have a strong Tour too.
There has been a lot of speculation about my team for next year but all I can say is that there's no news from Frank or myself and I'm utterly focussed on performing at the Tour. If you must know I have four options for next year: staying with Bjarne, Kim and Brian's new team and two others that I can't discuss. But right now I'm a Saxo Bank rider and the most important thing is the Tour de France and where I finish come the end of the race.
I spoke with Bjarne at the Tour de Suisse and we'll see him tonight and we'll chat about the future, I'm sure of that. Yes, I have a few options but there are no new negotiations with Bjarne – they can't start until there's a sponsor.
As for my form I'm in recovery mode right now. After winning the national time trial championships I crashed my bike while training. There was a large rock in the road, I couldn't avoid it and you can guess what happened next. Just like the time I was hit by a car last year, the first thing I did was check my body for broken bones. Luckily I was fine, but I've lost a fair amount of skin. It's a bit sore but I'll ride a bit before Saturday.
I'll do a few hours today and then tomorrow I head to Belgium to recon the cobbles again. You can never get too much practice on such difficult terrain. But other than that I'll be using up as little energy as possible. It's a case of saving as much energy, too. A rider doesn't want to pick up any illness or injury before the Tour. We've spent our entire year getting ready for this race, so putting in that final effort now will make a big difference.
The objective is to win but it's going to be a very long Tour. There are the cobbles of Belgium, the cross-winds in Holland, the Alps and the Pyrenees. The Alps will be tough but they won't house the decisive action as the main guys will want to save their powder for the Pyrenees when things will be harder. Want a prediction? How about this… the top three from the Tourmalet won't change all the way to Paris.
- Andy Schleck
May 11, 2010, 13:07 BST,
May 11, 2010, 14:31 BST
Andy's imagination runs wild en route to California
They say that the Tourmalet is tough, the Ventoux vicious, and the Bonette back-breaking, but nothing compares to the hardship, the graft and above all the suffering that comes with being in an airport for thirty hours.
They should make a race of it. The directors could drive around in airport buggies and we could keep in contact via hands-free phones. Each rider could have a trolley with all their food for the day and we could just do laps of the terminal. We’d drop Zabriskie as we speed past the comic shop, Jonathan Vaughters would take a tumble into Tie Rack, while you can insert your own jokes about who we drop at the chemists.
Finally, with just a select bunch of riders still at the front, the AFLD could do the frisking at the gate before Contador, myself and Lance give everything as we engage in a last ditch sprint on the escalator. My arms raised in victory, air hostesses would parade me around Duty Free.
"Will passenger Andy Schleck please make his way to gate 19. This is the final call for Mr Andy Schleck."
That’s me. Shit. I can’t believe that after thirty hours of sitting in Frankfurt airport I’m going to be late for my flight. Gate 19? Gate 19? Okay, I see it.
I came to the airport yesterday, but with the volcano and aeroplane mechanicals causing delays I’ve been forced to wait it out. But now, finally, I’m heading for California. The airport hasn’t been that bad to be honest. Despite the long hours, the queues and the boredom I’ve been okay. I struck up conversation with two strangers while I was waiting. One was an American guy on his way back from fighting in Iraq and the another was a young salesman. We got chatting and last night we went out for dinner together. It’s amazing the people you can meet in life just by luck or chance, and both these guys were really good people.
The Amgen Tour of California is a big race for me and the team. We have a lot of American sponsors and with most of our Tour de France team taking part it’s a great dress rehearsal for July. The daydream I’ve just recounted demonstrates just how much I’m thinking about the race already.
It’s some way off, but with the Classics out of the way it’s the new goal for my season. I’ve already ridden some of the cobbled sections from the first few days and I’ve spent some time on my time trial bike. It’s all about the Tour now.
But as I said, California is important too. I’m not going there with my best form – I’ve had roughly a week of easy to moderate training – but I’d like to come away from the US with a stage win, like Fränk did last year. It’s a tough route too and it’ll be hard on everybody racing.
One race that has looked really tough is the Giro. I managed to catch a bit of the first few stages and while I can’t comment on the route, I have to say that my teammate Richie Porte is doing a great job in his first Grand Tour. In case you don’t know, it’s also his first year as a professional and right now, going into the first rest day, he’s second overall and leading the white jersey competition. Impressive.
It reminds me of 2007, when I won the same competition and finished second overall. It’s a really long race and the last thing Richie needs is pressure on his shoulders right now, but I hope he does a good ride and if he stays upright, he’ll get the support from our team.
Right, I’m about to board the aircraft. I’ve just made it in time. I’d better get to my seat and settle in.
It’s going to be a fun ride. I’m glad you’re coming with me. Next stop, California.
- Andy Schleck
April 16, 2010, 17:58 BST,
April 16, 2010, 19:00 BST
Schleck brothers motivated after Frank becomes a father
Don't move a muscle and whatever you do, don't make a noise.
You moved! And you've woken the baby. Sorry, but you're joining me in a hospital in Luxembourg and that little thing wriggling around in the crib is my baby niece. It’s the one and only time I'm pleased to be in hospital and she’s the cutest thing I've never seen in my life. Her name is Leea, so of course it goes without saying that she’s a princess.
Weighing in at just 2.8kg she’s on the small side but she makes up for that in how cute she is. And of course she has two very proud parents in Frank and Martine. Additionally, little princess Leea was born on Frank’s 30th birthday, so there’s no excuse for ever forgetting her birthday.
I have to say, she’s a very quiet baby. Normally babies are chubby, and not that beautiful but Leea bucks the trend on both counts. You're probably wondering if her birth was meant to coincide with the Classics, but actually she’s a few weeks early and was meant to pop out on the 5th of May. However we're all delighted, including my folks, who have become grandparents for the first time.
My mum always wanted a little girl but with three big bruisers for sons she never had the chance to dress us in pink. Now she can dress Leea in pink whenever she wants.
The last 24 hours have been a bit of blur. Frank called me at 12:30pm and told me that the baby was on the way. I stayed up most of the night and he was calling me every thirty minutes with updates. He came back for breakfast, as a proud father but having had no sleep. We met with Laurent Didier and Jakob Fuglsang and trained for five hours later that day. Frank must have been so tired but he’s been on cloud nine all day. As soon as we got back from training he jumped in the car and went straight to the hospital.
Those of you wanting to know about my fitness before Amstel, I'm glad to report that I'm feeling good. I was up there in Pais Basque and compared to last year my results were better. After I pulled out of Catalunya due to illness I went back home and got my head together. I said to myself, if I want to be up there in the Classics I need to pull myself together and do some serious training.
And that’s exactly what I did. Five hour training rides in the pouring rain. It’s exactly what you need to do when you're coming up to a big goal.
Today we'll be traveling to Holland - volcano permitting - for Amstel. We'll be riding the last 80K of the race on Saturday and as you know it’s race I want to win. There are two cards to play of course, as Frank will be super motivated to race.
I said a few months ago that I'd like to win Amstel and that I'd like Frank to win Liege. Of course you can't have everything you want and there are some very strong riders preparing for the Ardennes but the team has two very strong cards to play with us both and we'll be up there in every race. But whatever happens, we've already had a huge victory with baby Leea, the biggest one we could ever imagine. Let’s see if we can win a race in her name...
Be quiet on your way out if you don't mind, she’s just fallen asleep.
- Andy Schleck
March 10, 2010, 19:39 GMT,
March 10, 2010, 19:55 GMT
A knee injury behind him, Andy details his return to the peloton
Okay, I'm not at my best but it feels so good to be back in the bunch and racing again. You don't know how hard it has been over the last few months as my teammates and rivals have raced and I've been going from specialist to specialist in a bid to find a fix for my knee. I wouldn't go so far as calling it depressing but it's certainly been tough, and when I picked up this niggle in January I had no idea it would take so long to clear up.
But now I'm back and racing again. My first race of the year was Giro del Friuli last week and although I didn't finish I managed to make it into a break with Filippo Pozzato and Franco Pellizotti.
And it seems my last blog on Cyclingnews caused a bit of a storm with Pippo unaware of the term 'metrosexual'. So just so you all know, he's not any type of sexual other than hetero and thanks to Google he now knows what metrosexual means. Let's just say that chatting in the break was a lot of fun that day.
Back to racing, and it's a step in the right direction for my season and the Classics campaign is back on. I raced again the Strade Bianchi and although I didn't finish that race either, I was happy with my performance.
It's strange being back in the peloton though. New teams, Sky and Radioshack have settled and all these riders are in their new kits and racing on different bikes. It's funny how so many riders come out with the same post-transfer quotes though. Like, "my new team is amazing; It's never been so organised; My old director never knew I existed; In my old team everyone called me fat," but seriously everyone comes out with the same quotes.
I guess it's a bit like going from a Porsche to a Ferrari - you're not going to bitch about either of them and you're certainly not going to lose face and say the Ferrari isn't good.
It leads me onto the next topic and one which I know you're all eager to hear about - my team situation for 2011.
I know you'll want to hear juicy gossip stories but the truth is that's there's no news and nothing to confirm. Obviously Frank and I have had offers from other teams but it's no secret that we're out of contract at the end of the year and with Saxo Bank pulling out, other teams are looking to sign us.
However I'm still convinced that Bjarne will come up with the goods and find a new sponsor and make us an offer to stay. I'm close to him, I love my team and my teammates and I hope that things work out for the best but we'll discuss things when the Tour is finished.
Sometimes it makes me smile when I read some of the stories in the press. Like last year when I was photographed talking to Lance Armstrong at the Tour. Of course the obvious conclusion one journalist arrived at was that we were negotiating on riding for Radioshack. Truth is we were talking about the race.
So in the next few months you'll probably read a lot more news items about Frank and I signing for this team or that team. In fact talking to Pippo in the bunch might have to go on hold, otherwise people will assume we'll be riding at Katusha next year.
I have a lot of friends here at Saxo Bank and we're a special team that work so hard for each other. You can never predict the future but I hope we find something. And I say we because as I've said before Frank and I will never race on different teams.
Back to the here and now and I'm getting ready for the start of stage 1 of Tirenno. By the time you read this I'll hopefully be safe over the line and in one piece.
There's still plenty of the season left to race and I'm looking forward to it. So, don't worry about me, I'll be in peak condition for the Classics and then the Tour.
- Andy Schleck
Now just 23 years of age, Andy Schleck made a name for himself during the 2007 Giro d'Italia when he won the best young rider classification. The Luxembourger continued to impress in 2008, when he took the same jersey at the Tour de France while helping his squad to win the teams and general classification.
Schleck is the younger brother of Saxo Bank teammate Fränk. The pair's father, Johnny, also contested some of the world's largest cycling races including the Tour de France and Vuelta a España between 1965 and 1974.
The cycling world is expecting more big things from Schleck in 2009, and he'll be keeping you informed of his progress throughout the year on Cyclingnews.com.
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