Kim Andersen has hit the headlines this week but even the Danish directeur sportif is probably slightly bemused by the tug of war he’s central to at RadioShack-Nissan.
However a line appears to have been finally drawn under a bizarre saga that has seen Andersen placed in a public battle between the Schleck brothers and RadioShack’s team boss Johan Bruyneel.
Andersen has been part of the Schleck entourage since their first steps at Saxo Bank and broke free at the end of 2010 with the Schlecks to set up Leopard-Trek - a team fully armed with Luxembourg funds to deliver a Tour de France title in 2011. The team ultimately failed, and despite both Schlecks making the podium at the Tour, team principal Brian Nygaard was dismissed less than a year into his employment. The team subsequently folded under Bruyneel’s wing at RadioShack, with the Belgian deciding over staff and rider placements as the teams merged.
The merger has seen Andersen working under Bruyneel and the Dane was subsequently left out of the Tour de France management, which was announced last week. The move appeared to frustrate Andy Schleck, who told Cyclingnews on Saturday that he hoped Bruyneel would reconsider his divide and rule decision.
But 24 hours after Schleck’s comments, Bruyneel was in defiant mood, telling Cyclingnews that his decision to leave Andersen at home during the Tour de France was final.
“It’s the plan we set out with in the past at the beginning of the year and I have the people I’ve worked with for a number of years who have shown that they know how to manage a big tour and with those people there I’m sure that everybody will have the necessary support they need to make the right decisions,” he said.
“I’m not going to go into any controversy, that’s my version and I’m not going to go into Andy said this or that. The decision has been made and the decision stays like it is.”
Such public displays from both riders and management is bizarre to say the least and one that almost certainly signals that the RadioShack camp has yet to settle. Bruyneel rarely has seen his authority challenged but when it has – Alberto Contador during the 2009 Tour de France – it has ended in acrimony.
One matter that appears to have been settled surrounds the Giro d’Italia. Earlier in the year Bruyneel had hinted that Fränk Schleck could ride the Italian grand tour in May, before turning his attention towards supporting Andy Schleck at the Tour de France. But at the start line in Liege, Bruyneel confirmed that both riders would ride the Tour, with Fränk Schleck skipping the Giro.
But the universal theme that unites both brothers and their manager is a need for a victory. The team have fired blanks so far this season, and Fabian Cancellara’s win in Strade Bianche aside, they’ve failed to capitalise on their undoubted collective strengths.
“There’s not that much different, there are just two groups that came together and we tried to get the best quality out of both groups but until we’ve had that big victory I can’t say it has been a success.”