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Fränk and Andy Schleck at the pre-Liège-Bastogne-Liège press conference.
Leopard Trek looking for their first major Classic victory
Leopard Trek team leaders Fränk and Andy Schleck have played down the idea that Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race between just them and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) but made it clear they are determined to try stop the Belgian completing a rare Ardennes hat-trick.
Facing a string of questions about if and how they can beat Gilbert, the two came close to losing their patience during a press conference in their hotel overlooking the Spa Francorchamps motor racing circuit.
Andy insisted he is riding to win but also pointed out that the world will not end if he doesn't.
"For me it's a race I want to win. I'm working a lot to be 100 percent on Sunday. But if I don't win, there's nobody who is going to kill me or anything like that," he said.
"I don't necessarily have to win but I'm here to win. I've been working many months for these days, so I won't go on the start to be second. Of course I want to win. But asking if I have to win is a strange question. It's not that the team will stop if I don't win on Sunday..."
Leopard Trek is the new super team in professional cycling but has yet to win a major Classic. Fabian Cancellara dominated on the cobbles but was out-maneuvered by stronger and more numerous teams. The Leopard Trek team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège includes Jens Voigt, Jakob Fuglsang, Fabian Wegmann, Maxime Monfort and the Schleck brothers.
The riders bristled with pride when asked if they felt they were under pressure to win a Classic. Andy believes the team is just missing a little bit of luck and hopes to 'crack the nut' on Sunday.
"I don't feel extra pressure because of that (being a major team)," he said.
"Everyone who knows something about cycling or who follows cycling has seen that we've been present in all the big races and that we're just missing a little bit of luck to win a Classic. We could have won I believe three or four Classics if we'd had a little bit of luck. It's a big factor in cycling. You need it and we haven't had it yet but I'm sure one day the nut will open and we will win."
Andy warned that it was important not to forget the other big-name favourites for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, suggesting there were at least 10 possible winners.
"Who counted Vino last year? We had a press conference before Liège and nobody mentioned Vino. He came from Italy, from a race he won, and won Liège," Andy pointed out.
"There are many more [rivals]. There's Gesink, Vino, Kolobnev, Rodríguez, Sanchez. I believe there are 10 guys and I hope I didn't forget anyone. I don't think we should just look at Gilbert. We have to keep our eyes open. There are many guys who can win the race."