By Shane Stokes
Best young rider in the 2008 Tour de France, Andy Schleck, is aiming to ride strongly in this year's race and better his 12th place overall.
The 23-year-old Saxo Bank rider is, along with his teammates, currently logging early-season kilometres in Majorca. Schleck has still a month before starting racing and will use the weeks ahead to increase the intensity of his training.
"I start in Tour of California, then Paris-Nice," he told Cyclingnews. "I will do Milan San Remo, and also Criterium International. Next will be the Tour du Pays Basques, then the main goal in the first part of the season, [namely] Amstel, Fleche and Liège."
Schleck was fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year, one place behind his elder brother Frank. Returning to the race and fighting it out for the win is a big goal. His biggest regret from 2008 is missing out on a victory in a big event; his results include that fourth place, fifth in the Olympic Games, sixth in the Tour de Suisse and third on the Alpe d'Huez stage of the Tour de France.
As regards his preparations for the July race, he is likely to follow a similar route to last year. "Normally I will do things like I do every year. I am going to take a week off after Liège, not do Romandie, then I think [it will be] the Tour of Luxembourg, the Tour de Suisse and then the Tour de France," he said. "We have a lot of training camps mixed in, too…I will do those main races, and there will be a load of training too."
Along with the other Saxo Bank riders, Schleck is tweaking his position via the Specialized BG Bike Fit system. Monday's analysis resulted in several changes, and team manager Bjarne Riis is hoping that a clear benefit will be seen this season.
These changes will be discussed in detail in an upcoming feature, while a lengthy conversation with Schleck will also appear on Cyclingnews soon.