Andy Schleck is confident that he has finally overcome the knee problems that have slowed him during the early part of the season and says he is getting stronger day after day. However because of the training time he has lost, the Saxo Bank rider has re-arranged his spring race calendar, adding the Volta a Catalunya after discussions with his team.
“We agreed the race contains a good amount of race kilometres and it will improve my preparations for the Ardennes Classics later on,” he said on the Saxo Bank team website. “I feel I am at the same level now as last year at this time and I am certain that I will be able to defend my title in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.”
Schleck, 24, will ride Milan – San Remo on Saturday. He was supposed to then ride three Belgian one-day races, but they have now been scrapped in favour of the Spanish stage race.
The Luxembourger recently rode Tirreno-Adriatico. “I know we did not take home any big results from Tirreno but that was never my objective. For me it was all about getting through the race without feeling any pain and I was actually feeling stronger every day,” he said. “It was a very tough course with numerous steep climbs and pulling through without knee problems was proof to me that I am right back on track.”
Tour de France
Looking forward to later in the season, Schleck said he is convinced “that the team is stronger than last year and for that reason I am looking so much forward to this year's Tour de France where we have big plans.”
Schleck, who last year finished second in the Tour de France behind Alberto Contador, is leaving nothing to chance this year. He will study the key stages in the Alps and Pyrenees at special training camps, as well as “going to pay the Belgian and Dutch roads a visit to get to know the course thoroughly.”
May will also be a big month. He will ride the Tour of California and his older brother Fränk will become a father. “Fränk is naturally looking forward to being a dad but I sure am looking forward to being an uncle to a new princess in the Schleck dynasty as well.”