As he returns to racing at the Tour of Luxembourg on Wednesday, Fränk Schleck has declared himself “very confident” of earning selection for RadioShack-Nissan’s Tour de France line-up, in spite of mounting speculation that he will not figure in manager Johan Bruyneel’s plans for July.
A late and reticent replacement for the injured Jakob Fuglsang at the Giro d’Italia, Schleck stoked the ire of Bruyneel when he abandoned the race ten days ago, citing a shoulder injury. The Luxembourger said that he is still suffering from the effects of that injury and has trained fitfully ahead of his home tour.
When asked by Le Quotidien if his programme would change if he were unable to complete the Tour of Luxembourg, Schleck quipped, “As you know, I’m flexible. For the moment, I should be at the Tour de Suisse. After that, we don’t know. But I’m very confident for the Tour de France. All the same…”
Last week, Bruyneel pointedly noted that only Fabian Cancellara was guaranteed selection for the Tour, while on Tuesday he expressed the wish that Frank Schleck would be “motivated to do better in future.” For his part, Schleck again denied that he had abandoned the Giro in order to prepare for the Tour with his brother Andy, but insisted that it was due to his shoulder injury.
“I have communicated the things that I wanted to communicate,” Schleck said. “If you take my abandon, I’ve spoken about it to various media. All the facts need to be joined together to know if it was planned or not. I’m not going to repeat myself. Yes, I had a problem with my shoulder and, rightly, I’m not very confident for the Tour of Luxembourg.”
But why race the Tour of Luxembourg if his shoulder injury has still not healed?
“It’s a legitimate question,” Schleck said. “It’s a choice. I know that we also have a certain responsibility in Luxembourg. There are a lot of people behind us. We need to be clear – the people support us and we have sponsors. Giving something back to the people here in Luxembourg is also a responsibility.
“We’ll see afterwards if I feel bad. Nobody can put themselves in my body and feel my pain. I’m going to try and do my best.”
Andy Schleck, who received his yellow jersey for the 2010 Tour de France in a ceremony in Mondorf on Tuesday, will not line up at the Tour of Luxembourg, which gets underway with a prologue on Wednesday evening