An interview with Fränk Schleck, April 16, 2006
Having just turned 26, Luxembourg's 186 centimetre, 67 kilogram power bundle is in his sixth year as a professional. He possesses enormous talent as one of only a handful of riders with the ability to ride - and win - both Classics and tours. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé found out after Amstel Gold Race that this is one cyclist who's niet slecht (not bad), to say the least.
Cyclingnews: When did you start believing you could win this race?
Fränk Schleck: There was never time to think about that; obviously, I wasn't a big favourite and I thought the chasers would catch me. Arriving at the finish line, I couldn't believe that I would actually win the race. This is all like a dream to me because I've been chasing this big victory for over seven years now.
CN: You are the second Luxembourger since Marcel Ernzer in 1954 to win a real spring classic [Ernzer won Liège-Bastogne-Liège]; 52 years have passed since then - how does it feel?
FS: It was only since yesterday that I knew I could become the second Luxemburger to win a spring classic because a journalist called me to ask about that. That also makes it really special, I have to admit.
CN: Does this victory actually come as a surprise to you?
FS: It does come as a surprise, because I had a pretty serious fall in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco; for some moments I even lost consciousness. A terrible night in the hospital was the result.
CN: Who was the leader of the CSC team today?
FS: Karsten Kroon and I were the protected riders. Karsten was very motivated for this race; he was always attacking and forcing the others to work hard. That turned out well for me, of course.
CN: Was there a plan in the CSC team to win this race?
FS: Bjarne Riis always has a plan: he thinks a lot about the tactics and of course he knows this race very well. I can't tell you the details, but Karsten Kroon and I had to spare our energy as long as possible, making it possible to attack in the finale.
CN: What did you do after your crash in the Pais Vasco?
FS: With the focus on the Ardennes classics, I stayed in Spain. The three days after being in the hospital were really hard. The GP Primavera was the first race after my fall; I took it really easy there [where his team-mate Carlos Sastre won the race - ed.]. Afterwards, I tried to keep cool but it was really hard, particularly on the emotional front for me and my family. I'd like to thank them all, and also Bjarne [Riis].
CN: Will you start the coming races with a different attitude?
FS: After my fall, Bjarne [Riis] said that I couldn't have lost my form in two days. Apparently in cycling you need to keep believing in your chances. You always have to go for more, to grow as a rider. In the coming races, I will do everything to perform well, but maybe I'll ride in support of Kroon, Voigt or Basso. Ivan [Basso] will compete in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and we all know he's in the form of his life.
Team CSC wins Paris-Roubaix, a week later the Amstel Gold Race... next week there is another spring classic for sale [La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liège - Bastogne - Liège next Sunday]. We surely can win over there with CSC because we have the best team in the world. Those are not cheap words because I feel we're not just team-mates or colleagues. We call each other mid-week to meet up outside the cycling world. You don't see that very often in cycling.