Sunday's Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands will continue the string of Spring Classics, now taking the cycling world to the Ardennes region. Luxembourg team Leopard Trek is expected to make a strong showing once again, with its top man Fabian Cancellara this time joining the two Schleck brothers, fresh from recent performances in Spain.
"The races that we are facing right now have a different identity than the races we had so far," said sports director Kim Andersen, who guided the team in Spain and will now take them through the next set of Classics. "Gone are the races where cobbled climbs and farm tracks are the strategic points. The climbs are coming and so are our climbers."
Both Fränk and Andy Schleck fine-tuned their conditon in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco last week, and their preparation went without any hiccups. "Fränk and I have prepared to peak in our top condition for the Ardennes Classics," said Andy Schleck on the team's website. "We showed at Pais Vasco that our condition is where it needs to be."
With the Schlecks furthermore supported by Cancellara, on top of such superdomestiques as Anders Lund, Fabian Wegmann, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt and Maxime Monfort, the team can count on a high number of top performers and should therefore be in the mix for the victory. Wegmann finished on the podium of the GP Indurain earlier this month, and Fuglsang showed a strong performance in the Basque time trial last week.
"The addition of Cancellara makes the team even stronger. Amstel is a target for the Schlecks, but Fabian could definitely surprise with a big result," Andersen added. "Our goal is to be up there and in contention for the win."
Of the three Ardennes Classics, the Swiss powerhouse will only be racing Amstel Gold Race. He will then be replaced by Stefan Denifl for Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.