Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) has all but admitted defeat in his bid for a podium finish at the 2012 Tour de France. The man from Luxembourg, who finished in third place last year behind Cadel Evans (BMC), says that the crash he suffered at stage six and the result of Monday's stage nine time trial have left him too far behind in the overall general classification to launch a realistic bid for a top three spot when the Tour reaches its climax in Paris on July 22.
Schleck lost over two minutes on the leaders when he was involved in the mass pile-up on the outskirts of Metz towards the end of stage six, and his performance in the time trial from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon saw him lose a further four minutes on race leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).
"I lost two-and-a-half minutes in the fall on the Metz road," he told Le Quotidien. "Again I lost four minutes in the time trial. Achieving the podium is almost impossible."
After previously criticising the race organisers for the dangerous roads the riders encountered in the early part of the Tour, Schleck launched another broadside against them by claiming that this year's course doesn't feature enough opportunities for the top climbers.
"There are only two very hard stages for climbers," he said. "In the other stages, we do not know what to do. The organisers wanted to make an exciting tour with earlier attacks but what will happen is the opposite. Three years ago we saw [Schleck's brother] Andy and I regularly attack everyone else. We knew last year that would be hard to beat Cadel (Evans), but no one attacked. I fear that this will remain the same this year. "