Andy Schleck has said that he was not overawed by Chris Froome’s performances in the mountains at this year’s Tour de France, pointing out that he had ridden comparable times on the same climbs at the 2009 and 2010 editions of the race.
After a troubled start to the season, Schleck finished the 2013 Tour in 20th place overall, over 41 minutes down on Froome, but he is determined to recapture his former level in the colours of Trek Factory Racing next season.
“He [Froome] is very strong, but he was only seven seconds quicker up Ax-3 Domaines this year than I was in 2010,” Schleck told L’Équipe. “And the previous year, on the Ventoux, I went up as quickly as he did this year, after I had attacked at the bottom and then ridden stop-start at the finish.
“Those are only indications but Froome doesn’t amaze me any more than that. His acceleration is very strong; after that, he goes up like it’s a time trial with a strange style… He impresses me less than [Nairo] Quintana.”
The 28-year-old Schleck told L’Équipe that he has “five or six” Tours left in his career and that his ambition remains “to win the Tour again by finishing in yellow on the Champs-Élysées.” Asked if he counted the 2010 Tour, awarded to him following Alberto Contador’s positive test for clenbuterol, Schleck said that he had mixed feelings.
“Yes and no… I should have beaten Contador, I was stronger than him. I was in yellow when he attacked me on Port de Bales when my chain slipped. Was that deliberate? I wasn’t sure. Contador was attacking everywhere, without warning.”
Schleck also dismissed the rumours of a problem with alcohol that circulated during his difficult start to 2013, when he was still searching for condition after fracturing his pelvis at last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné.
“I heard that and it made me laugh. With the internet, everyone can spread gossip,” Schleck said. “When [former team backer] Flavio Becca heard a guy saying that he’d seen me drunk here in Luxembourg, he summoned me to his office immediately. Just to note that I was at the Tour de Suisse at the time!
“It was the same thing in the Algarve. Somebody had apparently seen me in a state at the disco, even though I only ever went out in the evenings to go and eat in a Mexican restaurant with my mother. These are only malicious rumours.”