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Fränk Schleck (Team CSC)
By Gregor Brown in Liège Fränk Schleck could make it two in a row for Luxembourg in the Ardennes...
By Gregor Brown in Liège
Fränk Schleck could make it two in a row for Luxembourg in the Ardennes Classics, following on from the success of compatriot Kim Kirchen in Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne. The 28 year-old of Team CSC is one of the favourites for Sunday's 261-kilometre Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The rolling, long parcours is suited to a rider of Schleck's build as evidenced in last Sunday's Amstel Gold race and the third place he earned in the 2007 running of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Even if he was bogged down in the race-ending showers that fell on the shorter Flèche Wallonne, Schleck has the condition to make a difference by the finish in Ans.
"Yes," confirmed Schleck to Cyclingnews when asked if he was happy with his form in light of the second place he obtained behind Damiano Cunego in Amstel Gold. "The legs were great. I just had a shitty race on Wednesday, with a lot of crashes and I was really getting cold with the rain. I did not feel really good there, but I am confident for tomorrow and I have my legs. I had super legs on Sunday and I don't see why they would not be there tomorrow."
The weather is supposed to be warm and sunny with a forecast of 21 degrees Celsius and clear, which is music to the ears of CSC's captain. "I don't like it, I don't like the rain," he said of the downpour in the last half of Flèche Wallonne.
The top riders for Liège-Bastogne-Liège are marking Fränk Schleck down as one of their favourites to keep under surveillance, but he is going about his business without worrying about other riders' plans. "It does not really matter if I feel like a favourite, for the other competitors I am a favourite," said Schleck in the warm rays that were falling down on the Place Saint-Lambert.
The CSC rider was another to check out the new climb of Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, and believes it will seriously shake up the race. "I went to see it, it was really hard. It is going to make a big difference. It is very different [to the Côte du Sart-Tilman], and also we no longer have the long big down hill to Liège.
"I don't thing there will be more than four or five riders together at the finish line."
He confirmed this will change his race tactics, but he would not reveal how. "I can't say, I think a lot of guys are reading. I am. I read Cyclingnews," hesitated Schleck, and then added, "I think it is obvious that [Damiano] Cunego and [Alejandro] Valverde, they don't have to attack, they can wait for the sprint."
If Schleck does cross the finishing line on Rue Jean-Jaurès first, he would not only add to Luxembourg's wins in this year's Ardennes Classics, but become only the second-ever Luxemburger, after Marcel Ernzer, to top the Liège-Bastogne-Liège podium.
"I love this race. It is all about having the desire to do the race," he concluded.