Schleck says he's a Classics favourite despite setbacks

Andy wants Amstel title, will help brother Frank at Liège

Despite pulling out of the Volta Catalunya through illness Andy Schleck believes he can still be a force in the Classics this spring. The Luxembourg rider finished second in last year’s Tour de France and won Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a terrific attack, however he has had his 2010 season wrecked by crashes, injury and now illness.

He looked to be returning to form during last week’s Milan-San Remo, but according to Schleck, that was when a stomach bug first surfaced. “I had it from Milan-San Remo. Stuart O’Grady was sick the day before and then I was struck down,” he told Cyclingnews.

“First I felt okay but then on the night before I pulled out of Catalunya I was just up all night vomiting.”

Schleck returned to his family in Luxembourg on Wednesday and will stay there until the next race on his schedule, Vuelta a Pais Vasco. It will be his last chance to rack up valuable racing miles before the Classics, where he’ll look to help his brother Frank win Liège, before aiming his sights on winning Amstel Gold Race for the first time in his career.

“I’m feeling a lot better now. I took some medicine from the doctor and I’m okay,” he said. “I was really looking forward to racing all of Catalunya and racing with Frank again but there’s nothing I can do.”

Before competing in Vuelta a Pais Vasco Schleck will train at home. “I can be in top form at the Classics, of course I can. It would have been better if I’d done Catalunya instead of training at home but it’s happened now and I need to go home and train even harder. I’m still a favourite and I’ll be there with Frank in the Classics.”

Schleck’s bad luck started before the turn of the year when he was hit by a car. Although he left the scene of the accident with just a broken bike he picked up his first injury in January. After a long training ride with his brother and Jens Voigt he complained of mild pain in his ankle, which turned out to be tendonitis. This delayed his racing debut as he sought treatment and he and eventually made his season debut at the Giro del Friuli at the start of March.

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