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Fränk Schleck to start season at Tour Down Under
After racing separate programmes for much of the last season they rode together, in 2012, Andy and Fränk Schleck look set to follow a similar build-up to the Tour de France in the colours of Trek Factory Racing next season.
According to Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidien, the Schleck brothers will ride together at Paris-Nice, Critérium International, the Tour of the Basque Country, the Ardennes Classics, the Tour of Luxembourg and the Tour de Suisse as they prepare for the Tour.
As was the case in years gone by, the week of Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastoge-Liège will be the first target of the season, with the Tour de France the main objective. The Schleck brother last raced together at the Tour in 2011, when they finished second and third behind Cadel Evans.
"Paris-Nice will be an important first test, but it’s clear the first big morsel of the season will be the Ardennes Classics," Fränk Schleck told Le Quotidien.
Fränk Schleck will start his season at the Tour Down Under on January 21, his first race since he tested positive for the diuretic Xipamide at the 2012 Tour. Schleck’s one-year ban expired last July and he had hoped to race the Vuelta a España but but was unable to reach an agreement with outgoing RadioShack-Leopard backer Flavio Becca and sat out the remainder of the 2013 season, before rejoining the team in its new guise of Trek Factory Racing.
Andy Schleck’s 2014 campaign is set to begin later than his elder brother, at the Tour of Oman (February 18-22), but the pair will be reunited the following month at Paris-Nice and race together for the first time since the 2012 Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
As manager of RadioShack-Nissan in 2012, Johan Bruyneel devised separate racing programmes for the Schleck brothers for much of his tenure, sending Fränk Schleck to that year’s Giro d’Italia at short notice. Bruyneel was dismissed by RadioShack in October 2012 following the publication of USADA’s Reasoned Decision on the Lance Armstrong case, which detailed his involvement in the doping programme at US Postal Service.