Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) has already begun to plan how he can beat two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador in next year's race.
Contador will pass through the mountains without problems if he has two or three mountain helpers, Schleck told Le Quotidien. "But his problem will be the pavé. He could suffer, while [brother] Fränk and I will be able to rely on specialists Fabian [Cancellara], Stuart [O'Grady] and Matti [Breschel]."
Stage three of the Tour de France will travel from Wanze to Arenberg on July 6. The 207-kilometre stage includes seven sectors of pavé, 13.2 kilometres of cobbles usually only seen in one-day race Paris-Roubaix. Both Cancellara and O'Grady are past winners of Paris-Roubaix.
"If there is a chance, we'll go for it. We will train as much as necessary to be familiar with this stage," said Schleck.
Tour organiser ASO presented a course last month that starts in Rotterdam, Netherlands on July 3, and ends in Paris on July 25. Its first mountains come in the Alps, at Morzine and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Four Pyrenean mountain stages come in races final week, with a summit finish at the Col du Tourmalet only four days before the finish in Paris.
This year, Luxembourg's Schleck finished 4:11 behind Alberto Contador and 1:13 ahead of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong.
"My career goal is to win the Tour," Schleck continued. "For the moment there is someone stronger than me. I'd prefer not to have to face Contador. With him we've crossed a great talent; perhaps he is even stronger than Lance Armstrong.
"He does show some weaknesses, like this year at Paris-Nice. So he is not unbeatable. To succeed, we must do everything at 100 per cent. But, for the moment, the big favourite is Contador."
Schleck admitted he has to improve in time trial stages. Next year's Tour de France has two time trial stages, the eight-kilometre prologue and a 51-kilometre stage on the Penultimate day. He said that he is working on his arm, leg and back strength, being careful not to gain weight, in order to improve his time trialling ability.
He confirmed that he would like to give his brother a chance to win the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic next spring. Instead of trying for a repeat win at Liège, Schleck said he would like to win the Amstel Gold Race one week earlier.
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