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Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
Frank Schleck tried to bury the pain – both physical and emotional – as he’s helped into the race’s medical transporter and taken to hospital.
“Now Andy has to do it for me now”
As the Tour de France heads towards Reims today and the riders try to recover from the cobbles and the crashes, Fränk Schleck is already in Luxembourg and undergoing surgery on his fractured collarbone.
Schleck crashed just as the race exploded on the third section of pave during Tuesday’s stage to Arenberg. He landed heavily on his shoulder and fractured his collarbone in three places.
His brother Andy raced on to take time from his key overall rivals and teammate Fabian Cancellara retook the yellow jersey but Fränk's Tour de France ended instantly and he was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Before traveling back to Luxembourg last night for surgery, he recorded a video interview with his Saxo Bank team. He was wearing a sling to hold his collarbone together and was understandably despondent.
"Let's put it this way, I've seen better days," he said.
"I think we've all seen that the team was the strongest team by far and all the boys did an amazing job yesterday (Monday) and all waited for us. Again today (Tuesday), it was great to everyone committed to help and support us trying to win the Tour de France."
"(After what happened on Monday) we told them we owed them a lot and that we're going to do everything we can to win this Tour de France. Today (Tues) we had perfecting position, a perfect job from everybody and the team stuck together. Then it happened. I was going on the pave and was in fourth position but a guy from Highroad crashed in front and just took me down. But that's sport. Now I've got a broken collarbone that is broken three times and I'm heading back to Luxembourg to get surgery and see how long it takes (to recover)."
Schleck said he immediately knew he had broken his collarbone. He also knew it meant the end of his chance of winning the Tour de France.
"I've never broken anything before. I've had some crashes but this was just so much pain. I knew it was broken straight away," he said.
"It's a pity because I seriously think Andy and myself could have both been on the podium and go for the win. Now Andy has to take over that part himself. Now Andy has to do it for me now."
He also praised and thanked his Saxo Bank teammates.
"It's hard to explain but we've been together for almost a week and what those guys showed, what they gave me and us, especially today (Tuesday), was amazing. It was gold. Thanks very much for everything guys. Also to Bjarne, who has fully supported us 100%. Thanks for that boys."
Andy Schleck, the younger of the two Schleck brothers, will now have to continue in the Tour de France as the sole leader at Saxo Bank. Frank insisted he will not be alone.
"He's not going to be alone. I'll be with him for sure," he said. "He can count on the team, on the whole squad staying together and staying 100% committed. He's also got Bjarne, who has been a good sports director and showed that he's a big man."