An interview with Fränk Schleck, July 18, 2006
26 year-old CSC rider Fränk Schleck took his biggest victory today by winning the Tour's 15th stage to L'Alpe d'Huez - the first rider from Luxembourg to do so. After being in the breakaway for most of the day, Schleck was able to drop Damiano Cunego with 2 km to go to solo to victory. Brecht Decaluwé reports from the top of the mountain.
Q: Even your famous compatriot Charly Gaul never won the stage on Alpe d'Huez. How do you feel now that you've stepped out of his shadow?
FS: (quietly) It's an great honour to be compared with Charly Gaul, as he was a very good rider. Sadly enough, he passed away a few years ago.
Q: You have won a stage with a mythical finish on top of Alpe d'Huez. Many famous riders have won over here. Is this win teaching you something about yourself?
FS: I will be more confident now. Many people said that I could do well, that I had to be confident. This morning I was feeling good and I was in a breakaway group. At the end of the day, I end up winning this fantastic stage. It will take a while before I realise that I've won over here.
Q: Weren't you supposed to stay with Sastre today, to support his GC?
FS: Yes, that's a tricky question. Normally I needed to stay with Carlos (Sastre), to help him out if necessary. But I got in the breakaway, together with three teammates. A lot of riders told me to go back as I was too close in the GC. I was at eleven minutes, so I said no, just like Bjarne (Riis). He told me not to pull as we had three more guys. Jens (Voigt) and David (Zabriskie) did an amazing job today, it was crazy what they did. They believed in me and they were never doubting. I want to say thank you at the guys, and all of the team who believed in me.
Q: You were together with Cunego during the last kilometres. Why did you decide to attack, was it part of the plan?
FS: Normally I'm a bit afraid to attack. Today I had to attack as I knew that Cunego is a better sprinter than me. I tried and it worked out well. It wasn't planned but had to try. If you get the chance to win the stage on Alpe d'Huez, you need to grab that chance.
Q: Were you considering to stop racing, just before you arrived in the CSC-team?
FS: I had a really hard time to find a new team. Only CSC gave me the opportunity and the time to grow. I'm very thankful for the chance they handed me.