Leopard Trek rider knows he has to attack before the Cauberg
Fränk Schleck was 30 on Friday and hopes to celebrate his birthday with a second victory at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.
The Leopard Trek team is still looking for its first major victory but Schleck heads a powerful squad for the Amstel Gold Race that includes his brother Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Fabian Wegmann, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt and Maxime Monfort.
Fränk rode aggressively at the recent Vuelta la Pais Vasco but lost two minutes in the final time trial to overall winner Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) and finished 16th overall. However he is confident he and the Leopard Trek team can get a result in the Ardennes.
"We're motivated to do well in all three of the races that are coming up. The team is on form, it's virtually the same line-up as for Criterium International with the addition of Cancellara, and we really want to do well in these new colours," he told the Luxembourg-based Quotidien newspaper.
Schleck won the Amstel Gold Race in 2006 but knows he has to avoid getting to the final climb of the Cauberg with faster finishing rivals such as Philippe Gilbert.
"I know I can win and that's important for my confidence," he said. "Amstel is an elimination race. You can't be further back than 40th position in the peloton in the last 100km and the closer we get to the finish, it becomes harder and harder to hold a position at the front. The thing I like the most is the distance (250km) because I'm an endurance rider. The longer the race, the more I perform and the more motivated I become."
"For me to win on Sunday I know it'll be better for me to attack before the Cauberg Philippe is the number one rival and is very, very strong. I think the Amstel Gold Race actual suits him better than Liege-Bastogne-Liege even though that's his big objective. He's can handle the climbs really well but what impresses me is how he is able to hold his form, that's what makes him a great rider. However there is also Sanchez, Cunego, Vinokourov, Gesink and Kolobnev. We'll also have to keep our eye on Freire if he's up there at the foot of the Cauberg."
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