Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) will now ride the Volta a Catalunya to compensate for his withdrawal from Paris-Nice. Schleck was stricken by gastroenteritis and pulled out of the French race after losing over ten minutes on stage two.
“He’s getting better and he’s back on the bike,” manager Johan Bruyneel told L’Équipe. “His programme has changed. His next race will be the Volta a Catalunya [March 19-25 - ed.] and not the Critérium International, but that doesn’t change anything in his general preparation.”
Bruyneel insisted that he was not worried by Schleck’s state of form and said that the Luxembourger could have been a strong performer at Paris-Nice had it not been for his illness.
“It’s early. He was in quite good condition – not at his peak, but enough to do a good Paris-Nice. When you’re sick, there’s nothing you can do. There are plenty of riders in the peloton who had the same problem. The goal is to recover as quickly as possible.”
Bruyneel also sounded an optimistic note on the likelihood that his charge would be ready to mount a challenge for the Ardennes classics in April. Winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2009, Schleck has hinted that his focus will be trained ever more intently on the Tour de France this year.
“They’re still a long way off, in mid-April. Just because you’ve been sick doesn’t mean that you lose everything you did beforehand,” Bruyneel said.
While Andy Schleck’s Paris-Nice was undone by illness, his brother Fränk and Andreas Klöden lost out on their hopes of a general classification challenge when they missed the crucial split on stage two. Bruyneel is hopeful both men can perform strongly on the Col d’Eze time trial on the final day.
“If Klöden has the legs, he can maybe do a good performance,” he said. “We came here with ambitions for the general classification but Andy was sick, we lost two other men [Jan Bakelants and Joost Posthuma – ed.] and we only had [Maxime] Monfort in the right group on the second day. That obliged us to limit our options for the GC, but I saw a team that rode well together.”
Aside from Monfort, who currently lies 7th overall, RadioShack-Nissan’s most prominent performer has been Jens Voigt, who narrowly missed out on stage victory to Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) on Friday. “At 40 years of age, to be capable of being motivated from the start to the finish of a stage like that, it’s impressive,” Bruyneel said. “