By Hedwig Kröner in Sisteron
CSC's Fränk Schleck is quietly preparing his season's first objectives, the Spring Classics. After finishing tenth in the Tour du Haut-Var, the 2006 Amstel Gold Race winner had been wanting to show more of his rising form in Paris-Nice, but it was not to be. The rider from Luxembourg crashed right on the first stage of the race, which prevented him from living up to his role as a race favourite.
"I've had better days," Schleck told Cyclingnews at the start of stage five in Althen-des-Paluds, even though the Provence sun raised temperatures to almost 20 degrees Celsius. But the 28 year-old still felt the pain from his crash under the rain a few days ago. "Now, I just have to get over these last few days. Yesterday [on the stage to Mont Ventoux, where he finished an impressive fifth - ed.], I felt quite good, even though I was still in pain. But it was good for my head, as I know have to get over this mentally, too."
Fortunately, his injuries will not keep him from performing for a long time, and he he will be back to a 100 percent of his abilities in short-term. Schleck was confident that "it's going to heal fairly well. The problems are only muscular. There is nothing broken or torn." But the early crash made him lose a lot of time on the general classification, and shattered his initial ambitions for Paris-Nice.
"If I hadn't crashed, things would have been quite different," he explained. "I don't say that I would have won this race, but I could have raced [for] the podium."