After 15 years as a pro and 25 years of racing, Frank Schleck (Trek-Segafredo) has only a handful of race days left before he walks away from the sport that has occupied his time since adolescence. As his retirement date following Il Lombardia approaches, the 36-year-old from Luxembourg joked that the real heavy lifting is about to start.
"I have two kids at home," he said last week before he started the Tour of Alberta in Canada. "They are costing a lot of energy and I think it's time to give something back to them. I'm going to miss the pro business of cycling, because at home there are always things to do because you have to take care of the kids. You have to do the laundry, you have to do dishes, and once you're with the team there's nothing to do. So I think it's going to be a big, big change."
Schleck arrived in Canada last week to help teammate Bauke Mollema defend his 2015 title at the five-day race in Alberta. Mollema just missed that defence, finishing one second behind overall winner Robin Carpenter (Holowsko-Citadel), but Schleck, an avid outdoorsman, was able to enjoy his first trip to the Western Canadian province nonetheless.
"I know about Canada as a big huge country, a lovely country," he said at the time. "I'm a guy who is an outdoor freak, so I like to go out into nature fishing and hunting. I'm all over that, and I hear a lot about Canada of course."
Schleck didn't get to try out any of the blue-ribbon trout streams in Alberta, but he was able to do a little sightseeing as the team got ready for the race.
"On Monday and Tuesday we had a nice ride," he said. "We drove to Mountain View from here and we rode to the Rocky Mountains, which was very, very beautiful riding there.
"The next day we crossed into the States and Glacier Park, and that was beautiful. We really liked it. And so we combined great riding and great training with the beautiful views, which was nice. I saw some nice spots for fishing, but unfortunately we didn't have time."
Schleck and his Trek teammates remained in Canada following Alberta and headed east to the province of Quebec, where they will compete in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec on Friday and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal on Sunday. Mollema was sixth in Quebec City last year, and the 2016 Classica San Sebastian winner is one of the favourites for this year's race.
Following the Canadian events, Schleck will head for Italy, where he'll compete in one-day races Giro dell'Emilia, Gran Premio Bruno Breghelli, Milano-Torino and finally, the last race of is career at Il Lombardia.
From there, aside from trying to keep up with his children, Schleck's plans are still up in the air.
"I've got some plans, but if you're still racing you don't have time to really plan those things," he told Cyclingnews. "I think it's going to take me a few months to really figure it out. I've got some ideas of what I want to do. I would like to share my passion for cycling, but there is nothing concrete yet."
Surely there will be more time for fishing?
"I don't have anything planned, planned," he said. "But I definitely want to go do that."