CSC's two brothers Fränk and Andy Schleck are aiming high in the 2008 Tour de France. They, along with Carlos Sastre, have the goal that one of the team will wear the final yellow jersey in Paris. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to the Luxembourg duo in the lead-up to the race.
Although Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) are regarded by many as the big favourites for the 2008 Tour de France, the CSC trio of Carlos Sastre, Fränk Schleck and Andy Schleck cannot be discounted. Sastre has finished third and fourth in the past two years. Schleck senior (Fränk) won the stage to Alpe d'Huez in 2006 and placed tenth overall, and his younger brother stunned the cycling world when he finished second in his debut Giro d'Italia last year.
The palmarès of Evans and Valverde suggest, on paper at least, that they look like bigger contenders for the race victory, but when the team strength of CSC is factored into the equation, nothing can be dismissed. If each are on form, their three-pronged attack could well shape the race and determine in which direction the battle turns.
The two Schleck brothers finalised their preparation for the Tour by riding the Tour de Suisse and then the Luxembourg national championships, where Fränk won the road race and Andy was fifth. Both had been happy with their form at the Tour de Suisse, feeling that they were moving in the right direction to be in peak condition at the Tour de France. "I am really happy," said 23 year-old Andy on the morning of the final stage. "I didn't think I was going to be as good. I came to the race with the main ambition of preparing for the Tour, my big goal of the season, but I felt better every day. It is pretty good, I am where I want to be for the Tour."
He finished second in the Giro d'Italia a year ago and could, realistically, have targeted the overall win in the race this season. However he decided not to do it, peaking once in April and then continuing a big build-up for July. "The whole season has been focused on the Tour. Of course, the first goal of the season was the Ardennes Classics. I think I did well there," he stated, referring to his fourth place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"Liège was the highlight. It was the biggest race and, for me, it is the hardest [one-day] race of the year. I missed the podium but it was still something special to be up there with my brother. After that, it was everything for the Tour. I had a good break, I did some training and before this, I have only done the Tour of Luxembourg as my first race. When I started the Tour de Suisse I didn't feel super, but in the last days I feel really good."
To read the full feature, click here.