Despite another disappointing display, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) is hoping he can turn around his Tour de France preparations with training camps in the Alps and Pyrenees. The 2010 Tour de France winner abandoned midway through stage 6 of the Critérium du Dauphiné due to injuries sustained in a crash 48 hours previously.
He had already pulled out of Paris-Nice after just two stages and the Volta a Catalunya. A knee injury in May also affected his training.
“In bad things I always try to find the good things. The good thing is that I have done six stages. Some people will say ‘It is only three weeks till the Tour’ but you can also say it is ‘still’ three weeks to the start in Liège. You can do a lot in three weeks. That is my strength. I’ve shown it in the last years. I was not good in the Tour de Suisse but I was in the Tour de France. I won’t stop believing in it. I’ve worked hard for this.”
While Schleck has indeed shown almost miraculous turns of form before previous Tours, this year will take something truly special if he’s to stand any chance of competing with Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans – the two tipped favourites for July.
“It is just that bad luck is following me in the last months,” continued Andy Schleck. “I could not avoid it. Before this I had a left knee problem after my crash in a training camp in Sierra Nevada. It healed and then I improved. Even yesterday, after my crash I felt okay in the climbs. When I stayed in the saddle, my ribs hurt and I was suffering a lot but I came through the day. I was improving in the climbs and I was okay on the Grand Colombier.”
Schleck returned to Luxumbourg and will have an MRI scan on Monday in order to diagnose his injuries. Until then, his Tour participation is in question.
“After the crash we had hoped Andy could at least finish the Dauphiné because he needs the races and the efforts,” said team boss Johan Bruyneel.
“It is not good what happened today. If you are dealing with problems and trying to catch up on form and then when you start to build up and see some improvements but you have a setback again through a crash or an injury, you never have a solid foundation. Andy’s situation is not a good sign for his Tour preparation, especially if you look now at the level of his competitors. For the moment there is not much we can do. It is a difficult situation.”