A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Bruyneel, Frank Schleck and Fabian Cancellara
Still no confirmation on Giro d'Italia, Tour de France plans
Fränk Schleck continued his 2012 racing season finishing 59th in the prologue at the Tour of Andalucia, on Sunday. The RadioShack-Nissan-Trek rider is using the race to gauge and improve his form ahead of the main objectives in his season.
However, the 2011 Tour de France podium star is still unable to confirm his race schedule beyond the Spring Classics, with speculation rife that he may ride the Giro d’Italia in May.
“My form is okay. I had a long break at the end of last season but I’m feeling good. I’ll see how I go at Andalucia,” Schleck told Cyclingnews.
“From there I’ll go to Paris-Nice, Criterium International and then Pais Basque and then the Classics. It’s a good programme for me with not that many changes.”
Fränk, like his younger brother Andy, is part of the new-look RadioShack-Nissan team since the start of the year. The squad was a merger between RadioShack and Leopard Trek with the majority of the team’s big hitters remaining with the 2012 squad.
At the team’s launch in January all concerned were quick to play down any rifts, pinpointing how well the team would fit together. And so far the squad has picked up team classification wins at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Oman.
“The team has been really good. We had the whole team training together. I can’t talk for all the riders but everyone appeared to gel really well. You can see from the few races we’ve done that we’ve raced well as a team.”
Schleck’s relationship with team manager Johan Bruyneel will be vital in the coming months. The rider had a strong bond with Bjarne Riis at Saxo Bank and especially with Kim Anderson throughout his career. Schleck’s relationship with his new boss appears professional.
“Things are good with us. We never had any issues and I don’t really have to introduce him, He’s won a lot of Tours and he’s got a lot of experience. The combo of Johan Bruyneel and Kim Andersen working together is going to be great. They know a lot about tactics and we believe in Johan, who can help us be the best and bring us further than we’ve ever been before. We’ve got a good relationship, he’s brought in some new ideas.”
But there still remains a question mark over Fränk Schleck’s race programme post-Ardennes. At the team presentation Bruyneel would not rule out sending the rider to the Giro as the team’s overall threat for the race. Such a move would not relinquish Fränk from a Tour de France spot but it would conceivably leave the team with Andy leading the team at the Tour, and Fränk riding in a structured support role.
All speculation, of course. Bruyneel may simply be playing the media and laying down his authority to the Schleck brothers.
“I’m not going to confirm anything,” Schleck told Cyclingnews. “I don’t know if I’m going to do the Giro. It’s not decided yet. Maybe it’s not the best way to prepare for the Tour de France if you ride the Giro but I can’t confirm anything yet.”