By Gregor Brown
Andy Schleck has excluded himself as one of the big names to race the 2009 Giro d'Italia. The Saxo Bank rider, winner of the 2007 Giro's young rider competition, will focus on the 2009 Tour de France.
"I am too young to do the Giro and the Tour. My main goal is the Tour next year, I want to concentrate 100 percent on it," Schleck said to Cyclingnews.
The 23-year-old Luxemburger challenged for the overall win in 2007, his first three-week race. He eventually finished 1:55 down on Danilo Di Luca, but he walked away with the maglia bianca of best young rider.
He skipped the Giro this year to focus on the Tour de France. He helped his teammate and brother, Fränk, take the yellow jersey and teammate Carlos Sastre onto the final overall victory. Like in the Giro of 2007, he came away with the white jersey of best young rider.
The 2009 Giro d'Italia will be one of the most closely watched races in recent history thanks to the participation of American Lance Armstrong. He joins a list of favorites that include Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Ivan Basso and Gilberto Simoni.
"The Giro is not an easier race, maybe it is even harder than the Tour, but the Tour is the Tour. It is great for Carlos and the rest, but for me it is too much to focus on both of the races."
Schleck, who leaves this weekend for a ski holiday in Austria, will dedicate the first part of his season to the Ardennes Classics. Similar to 2008, he will target Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"Last year  I was good and this year  I want to be better. Maybe I can have a victory in one of the three. ... It will be the first goal of the year."
He will race the Paris-Nice in preparation for the Ardennes Classics. His brother will race Italy's Tirreno-Adriatico, which runs nearly parallel to the French race.