Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck is the latest rider to join the ranks of Cyclingnews' diarists. After two amazing seasons in 2007 and '08, Schleck is now regarded as one of the brightest young stage racing talents in the world. In his first entry, the younger of the Schleck brothers gives us a little insight into his off season and what lies ahead in the first part of 2009.
The calm before the storm
As I write I'm sitting by a warm, crackling fire at my parents' home in Luxembourg. I've been here for a week but in the morning my season starts for real when I fly to the US. Gazing out of the window, everything is still, like the calm before the storm. I know that once I hit the US it's going to be non-stop and manic for the next ten months. From California to France for Paris-Nice and then Liège... before I know it I'll be back here at my folks' writing about the upcoming season in 2010.
But as this is my first diary for Cyclingnews, let's go back a few weeks to the beginning of the year. It got off got to the perfect start when Karsten Kroon, Frank, his girlfriend and I flew to New York for a few days. It was all totally last-minute and unprepared but we managed to see one of my favourite Dutch DJs play. We spent the whole night dancing and it was an incredible experience. I spoke to Bjarne Riis when I was back and he didn't have any clue I was even out there. He didn't mind though – I don't have to check in with the boss every minute of the day but I did have to tell the whereabouts programme.
I get asked about its benefits and hang-ups a lot. I accept it; I know that cycling has its problems and that we cyclists have no one to blame but ourselves for the current condition of the sport. Sometimes it can be hard though. If I want to go out with friends I have to declare it, but I'm young and I don't plan every occasion. It must be worse for some of the older guys who have training and family commitments to juggle. Like I said, I accept that these measures have to happen, I just wonder if the authorities have gone too far.
Things have been quiet since I've been home. I've been putting the finishing touches to my new apartment, which is being constructed now. I've been picking out bathroom tiles and things like that. Picking out tiles? Yeah, I know it sounds goofy but I'm really excited about having my own place. It is only a few hundred yards from my parents and my brother Frank.
Click here to see the rest of Andy Schleck's first diary entry on Cyclingnews