2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck put in a last ditch effort to earn his selection onto Trek Factory Racing's Tour team in the Tour de Suisse yesterday, going out on the breakaway on the final stage. But whether or not it will it be enough to warrant his inclusion in the team will begin to be decided by his team this week.
Schleck was 6:48 down in the overall classification on the start of the final stage, and looking to reverse Trek's fortunes in the race, which saw Fabian Cancellara abandon ahead of the final stage. The team had already lost Stijn Devolder on stage 2, and Fränk Schleck drop out with a concussion on the third day.
Schleck bridged across to a large move that formed early in the 156.7km stage, but lost contact with his companions on the final hors categorie ascent to Saas-Fee and finished 9:24 down after riding tempo to the finish..
"It was a really hard day; from the start it was going super fast. A group went, maybe 12 guys, on the first category climb and me and [Steve] Morabito jumped to this group and closed the gap. This was a very hard effort and after this I was not feeling so well anymore," Schleck said.
"Then the next climb when the three guys came from behind I had nothing left. I had ridden 120 kilometers at 180% and that was too much. I paid for it in the end. The last 15 kilometers I was done and I found my own rhythm just to get to the finish."
Schleck has had two lean years after breaking his hip in a crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2012. He DNF'd his way through the Ardennes Classics before finally conceding to knee pain before the Tour de Romandie. He needed to put in a strong performance during the Tour de Suisse in order to gain the attention of the team's Tour de France selectors. The provisional team and four reserves will be picked this week.
"It was a good week for me to find some shape; a good week of training," Schleck said. "I was not super good yesterday in the final climb, but not so bad either, and today I was active in the race. For me it is more important to ride in front and try something then to conserve, hang on, and maybe finish only one minute behind. The level is quite high here and today I went really deep."
The team's General Manager Luca Guercilena was on hand for the final weekend of racing, and admitted the team would have liked to have gotten better results.
"We wanted to get more out of the Tour de Suisse, but from the beginning we lost riders with crashes and health reasons," he said. "At least we were present in some attacks but it's evident we don't have the condition to follow the best riders right now. We are heading into a tough July but as usual we will try to be well motivated and ready to do what is in our possibilities."
Guercilena said prior to the Tour de Suisse that Schleck would have to earn his selection there. Did he do enough to warrant inclusion in the team come July 5?
"We will have a conference call Tuesday morning with all the directors and there we will try and determine the nine riders for the Tour, and the official four for reserve," Guercilena said. "Each director has followed five or six riders all year, so they will be able to give specific input. We will also discuss our goals for the Tour and then determine which riders best fit this."