Fränk Schleck, who finished sixth overall at last year's Tour de France, is ready to fight for the general classification once again. Together with his younger brother Andy, who also has serious ambitions to contend the top honours, Schleck will be leading his Danish Team Saxo Bank to make up for the loss of last year's winner Carlos Sastre.
"We are a very balanced team, supporting each other a 100 percent," the 2006 Tour stage winner told Cyclingnews on Thursday evening. "Last year, it worked out well for us, and we will try to do the same this year - only without Carlos as a leader. This year, Andy and myself are the captains, and we hope to be good."
Leaving it open for the journalist to interpret whether he talked about himself or his brother Andy, the new Luxembourg champion and last year's best young rider at the Tour, the elder Schleck chose to use the plural when speaking about his ambitions.
"The general classification is more important than a stage victory," he said. "We are here to win the Tour. We'll see what we can achieve."
The Schleck brothers may thus be double threat to the likes of Contador, Armstrong, Sastre or Menchov once the race unfolds on its way to Paris. But at the start in Monaco, all options were still left wide open. "My goal is to give everything I have in this Tour, and to make it a beautiful one. I can't predict what Andy and I will be able to do - if it's going to be a podium, a victory or the top ten - but I can promise that we will give it our all," Schleck added.
Fortunately, the Saxo Bank leader has almost overcome his knee injury, which resulted from a crash in the early season Amstel Gold Race Classic. "I had some problems with my knee these last months, and it's still not completely healed. But if it stays as it is now, I'll be fine," Schleck explained. While he admitted that his injury impeded his preparations for the Tour de France, Schleck still insisted, "but the form is there, so that's alright. I'm satisfied with my condition here at the start."
Looking forward to the racing, Schleck added that the team time trial in the first week could be an important step towards the achievement of the brothers' goal. "It's an important stage, because we have a strong time trialling team. I think - I hope - that we will be able to get some time over our rivals there. But I have to say that it's a very technical course: small roads, bad surfaces... A team like ours may not be able to make the most of it. Still, I'm convinced we will pull off a good performance."