It is somewhat of a tradition for the Schleck brothers, and this year again they have opted to spend a few days on the track in Ghent, Belgium, to escape the bad European weather conditions. Cold temperatures, rain and snow have forced the future RadioShack-Nissan riders to train indoors as they have been doing almost every year with the Luxembourg Federation.
"I've been coming here for the past ten years, at first with the national team, as a junior," explained Andy Schleck to Sporza. "When I get the time in December to come here for a couple of days, I like it."
The brothers arrived in Ghent on Monday and plan to stay for a total of three days. The objective is to "get as much hours done on the track as possible. The weather is not too good right now to train on the road, and somehow I have to get the work done - so this is a good alternative," Andy said.
However, it is the first time the two have had to move indoors to train this early, as the conditions until mid-December have usually been favourable. "We're right on schedule," Fränk Schleck commented. "Before going to Calpe for our training camp, the weather was always good. So we did some mountain biking and some nice rides on the road. Then, in Calpe, we actually trained a lot for this period of the year."
Both brothers admitted that the training on the track was also a good way to improve their time trial abilities in view of the Tour de France eight months from now. "Yes, absolutely, we do train for the time trial - actually, this is a part of it," replied Fränk when asked if specific training against the clock was part of their build-up for next season.
"The speed and the spinning of the legs, and the constant riding at the same speed - we work on that."
The 2011 Tour de France podium finishers also made positive comments about their new relationship with team manager Johan Bruyneel. "He has lots of experience and a very strong hand. He always has a plan behind everything, and a very strong structure. It's a pleasure to be working with him," Fränk said.