Relationship with Riis "not the same anymore"
A vital part of the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, Andy Schleck should go into next year's Tour de France as an overwhelming favourite and he believes being a part of the newest squad in the sport should help him achieve that elusive Tour crown.
In an extensive interview with Spanish sports daily Marca, Schleck played down comparisons between the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project and Team RadioShack, which was essentially built around the comeback of Lance Armstrong and will disband at the end of next year.
"I'll just be riding," he explained. Those who run it, of course, listen to me, but I'll just be a cyclist, I have no share in the team. I do not want more problems."
He added that the project has been given a minimum life of five years, whilst he has signed for four. As the 25-year-old approaches the peak of his career, the stability of a long-term project is appealing for the man who sees a first Tour de France crown as the main goal for 2011.
"The Tour will be the big goal, that's for sure, but not the only one because I also want to do well in the Tour of the Basque Country and [Ardennes] Classics; the month of April is also a very important period in cycling," he explained.
"I'll go one hundred percent to the Tour, so therefore the Giro is not in my plans."
While Schleck said that technical and minor sponsors are in place, a headline sponsor is yet to be anounced. He gave assurances that the project was very much on track, however. "A Luxembourg person - a millionaire who from the outset has put money in to get it going, has invested very heavily into cycling," said Schleck.
"We have small sponsors, but the primary is still undecided. The team was created in a manner similar to how teams started a few years ago, such as Garmin-Slipstream or High Road-Columbia-HTC," he said.
As for the result of this year's Tour de France, Schleck reiterated that he would not wish to take the title "in the office", as he dubbed it. "I do not want to win in the offices, I want to win coming to Paris with the yellow jersey on my shoulders," he said. "I do not know what will happen, but I'm second.
"What I hope is that Alberto is innocent and he can prove it. I'm not a doctor or specialist in the field, that's what the [anti-doping] bodies are for which in the end have to make the decision, but I don't think he did anything wrong," he added.
Schleck also explained that the relationship between himself and the boss of his previous team, Bjarne Riis, hasn't really recovered from his expulsion - which was Riis' decision - from the Vuelta a España as a disciplinary measure when he and Stuart O'Grady enjoyed a late-night drink. Coincidentally, the Australian is also moving to the new Luxembourg outfit.
"It [the relationship with Riis] is clearly not the same anymore. We are well and talk from time to time, but I disagree with the decision he made because we did not have the opportunity to defend ourselves. Ultimately, there were other ways to punish without sending us home," said Schleck.
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