Johan Bruyneel has insisted that the absence of Alberto Contador will not alter Andy Schleck and RadioShack-Nissan’s plans for the 2012 Tour de France, but acknowledged that the complexion of the race will be different without him.
“Contador’s absence from the start of the next Tour doesn’t change our plans at all, even if the race will undoubtedly be more difficult to control,” Bruyneel said, according to dhnet.be. “I’ve heard that Evans thinks the Tour would be more difficult to win without Alberto at the start.”
Contador misses this year’s race after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that he should serve a two-year suspension for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour. Andy Schleck will now enter the record books as the winner of that year’s race, but Bruyneel explained that to all intents and purposes, his rider is still looking for his maiden Tour victory.
“I talked with Andy for a long time after the Contador verdict and he doesn’t consider himself as the true winner of the 2010 Tour,” he said.
Bruyneel began working with Schleck this winter following the merger of the RadioShack and Leopard Trek outfits, and he was enthusiastic about the Luxembourger’s presence in his team.
“Working with a rider of Andy’s quality motivates me, it literally gives me a boost,” he said. “I didn’t have a leader like that at my disposal last year, even if I’m still convinced that without his crash Klöden could have been in contention for a podium place in 2011.”
While Andy Schleck will again return to the Ardennes classics in April, Bruyneel confirmed that this year his season will be focused ever more intensely on the Tour de France. Bruyneel also downplayed the prospect of Fränk Schleck lining up as leader at the Giro d’Italia, insisting that his primary goal was also to peak in July.
“The classics? We clearly hope Andy will be there as best he can, but the only true objective of his season is the Tour,” Bruyneel said. “And that will be the case for his older brother too, even if I’ve read that certain people already see Fränk as leader at the Giro.
“Andy is already on schedule. After Paris-Nice, he’ll ride the Critérium International. We’ll take stock after that race.”