Fränk Schleck believes he and his Luxembourg team can pull off a result in the men’s road race on Sunday despite facing a numerical disadvantage. Schleck, who finished fifth in the recent Vuelta, will lead just a three-man squad including Saxo Bank teammate Laurent Didier and Ben Gastauer of AG2R.
“I finished the Vuelta with some good form,” Schleck, who finished fourth in the 2007 Worlds, told Cyclingnews.
“I took it easy last week, had two long rides and then flew over. I needed that rest just to prepare for the race mentally but I’m motivated for this race because it’s a long way to come just to ride around. I’m not going to say I can win but I want to do a good result.”
Since arriving in Geelong, Schleck has ridden the road race course along with his two teammates. After being initially sceptical of his chances, he now believes that the steepness of the climb could play into his hands if the race comes down to a war of attrition.
“Everyone told me it was going to be warm over here but it has been raining and wet so far with a lot of wind. Apart from that everything is fine. We checked out the course. It’s hard. A couple of months ago everyone said it was for the sprinters but it’s going go be too hard for them. If you can recall Stuttgart (in 2007), it’s going to be even harder than that.”
Schleck is experienced enough to know that predictions can count for little at the world championships, as national teams and different trade team leaders come together for just one day in a bid to take home the coveted rainbow jersey.
“It’s going to be very difficult in terms of predicting what will happen,” he said. “The race will be decided on the last lap. I can’t see a group of five or six going clear though. Big leaders never work together so we could see a group of 15 to 20 riders move clear with all the big teams represented. That might work together, a bit like last year.”
Schleck insists that the onus to control the race will not fall at his feet. “Of course we are not going to animate the race like Spain, Italy or Australia. We have to watch the other riders, how they’ll ride and we’ll act on that. Spain and Italy are the teams that will take control but after that anything can happen.”
Car crash hits women’s chances
The Luxembourg team were involved in an accident yesterday, when both Nathalie Lamborelle and Christine Majerus were hit from behind by a car. Both riders were taken to hospital but suffered only cuts and bruises. They are expected to start Saturday’s road race.