Though a national crown awaits
By Anthony Tan in Switzerland
When Cyclingnews spoke with Team CSC's Frank Schleck before the start of Sunday's final stage of the Tour de Suisse, the Luxembourger appeared a little over-awed at the prospect of a potential podium finish.
"Hopefully, I can have a good day, and keep up with those guys. I showed that I can do it [on previous mountain stages], but you never know. You saw [Fabian] Jeker yesterday [Stage 8], he just blew... hopefully it's not going to happen to me," he said with a nervous laugh.
Coming off an excellent Giro d'Italia, where he rode in support of Ivan Basso, last week was the first time the 25 year-old found himself playing a real leadership role on the team. "I had very good shape in the Giro, helping Ivan [Basso], but I couldn't race for myself till the Tour de Suisse, where I got my chance," said Schleck.
"My team is supporting me very, very well with awesome guys like Bobby [Julich] and Jens [Voigt]... really the whole team, which is very nice. I'm recovering well, but you never know; if you have a bad day, you can lose fifth place or even a Tour win in one day - but you cannot win [the race] in one day."
Perhaps the weight of expectation got to him in the end, preferring to ride defensively on the final climb of the Furka Pass, letting overnight Michael Rogers (Quick.Step-Innergetic) and Chris Horner (Saunier Duval-Prodir) do the lion's share of the work.
Schleck admirably won the five-man sprint for second place, but the gap between Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and themselves saw Rogers lose the race, with himself suffering an almost equally disappointing blow, finishing just five seconds off Jan Ullrich in the final classification.
Maybe it's a lesson learned - maybe not. However, Schleck won't have a whole lot of time to think about last Sunday's consequences, as his next big objective is coming up this weekend, before a well-earned break.
"I would like to win the nationals [road championships]. Then after that, I will have a break and come back for Sachsen-Tour - but that's not a big goal for me. I will try to be good in the Deutschland Tour and then in the end of the year at Zurich and Lombardy... so Deutschland Tour and October will be my objectives," he said.