21 year-old Andy Schleck may be ready to move out of the shadow of older brother Fränk and father Johnny, himself a pro cyclist in the 1970s. The young Luxemburger is currently third in the Giro d'Italia, only 3'56" behind leader Danilo Di Luca.
The youngster signed his first contract with Team CSC in 2004, a year too early, according to legendary trainer Cyrille Guimard, who directed such riders as Hinault, Fignon and LeMond, and trained both Schleck brothers when they were with the amateur team VC Roubaix. Guimard told Radsport-News.de that he found it too bad that Schleck was facing his first Grand Tour with little team support.
"When you have such a talented rider, who can ride so far forward in his debut, then you build a team around him," Guimard said. Schleck has only four teammates left to support him in the difficult final week. He is defending not only his overall ranking, but also the white jersey of the best young rider. He now lies only 43 seconds ahead of Riccardo Riccò, who won the Tre Cime di Lavaredo stage on Sunday.
"The Giro is too early for him. Without a doubt it would have been better if he had ridden the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse and tried to win. Then he would have been ready [next year] to go to the Giro or the Tour de France with a team built around him," Guimard continued.
The Frenchman had nothing but praise for the young rider. "He is one for the Grand Tours. He rolls, he climbs, he is healthy, has the right mentality and the right temperament." He compares him favourably to such riders as Hinault, Fignon and LeMond, saying, "For me, Andy Schleck is on their level. But he must not be pushed too hard too early."
The youngster isn't quite perfect, though. "He can't really sprint, and he is missing some strength, but those things will come in the future as he gets older."