By Gregor Brown
Andy Schleck surprised himself with his eighth place performance last Saturday in Italy's Eroica Toscana. The Luxembourger of Saxo Bank made the final selection in the race known for its 57 kilometres of gravel roads.
"Going into the race I did not know what to expect. I know I am not bad on technical roads because I do a lot of mountain biking," he told Cyclingnews.
Schleck's team won the two previous editions with Alexandr Kolobnev and Fabian Cancellara and this year it was the 23-year-old rider, who lead the Danish team. He battled with Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) and Giovanni Visconti (ISD), but could not hold off the group that included eventual winner Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia-Highroad).
"I can see my form is coming on. If I do well at Tirreno-Adriatico and then Milano-Sanremo, I think I will be in good shape for the classics in April."
Schleck has ruled himself out of the overall classification in this week's Tirreno-Adriatico, March 11 to 17. He believes he is off the form he will need to have for his objectives in the Ardennes Classics at the end of April: Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"I need more races and kilometres. I will try to do a good time trial and then we will see. I think a guy like Lövkvist can do well in the hard time trial and then in the overall."