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A battered and bruised family Christmas

Andy Schleck on the Ventoux.

Andy Schleck on the Ventoux. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The saying goes that people tend to look like their pets. It’s a stupid saying isn’t it? I mean, Michael Jackson never looked like Bubbles and Siegfried and Roy look nothing like tigers. Saying that, Paris Hilton does a pretty good impression of a Chihuahua…

And right now there’s a glaring similarity between me and my dog Minke, as we’ve both been in the wars and are feeling sorry for ourselves. As you may have read on Cyclingnews, I was involved in a collision with a car whilst out training at the weekend. I was on my way to meet my brother Frank for a ride when a car came from nowhere and pulled right in front of me. I had no time to react and couldn’t avoid the crash. Luckily I got up and realised that nothing was broken. In fact, somehow the car had come off worse with two smashed windows, a damaged door and dented bumper.

So no harm done but it’s been around 24 hours and I’m feeling really stiff now. As for Minke, it’s a totally different story but he’s looking just as bashed up. Why, I hear you ask. Well, I was out walking with my Dad yesterday - Minke was there of course - and as all good hunting dogs do, he was on the prowl in the woods. Quick as you like he was dashing down a fox hole in search of some fun.

We could hear the scrap from outside and after calling him out he eventually strutted out, grinning from ear to ear. However he’d sustained a few war wounds and now his face is swollen up. It’s so bad he’s only been able to eat soup. So here we are, sitting inside on a perfect winter’s day, staring at each other’s reflection in the television and feeling sorry for each other.

Let’s not dwell on the downside though this has been a great Christmas at the Schleck household. This year my brother Steve came over with his other half and Frank brought his fiancée too. We had a great time, eating a fantastic lunch and chatting for hours. One thing I really like sharing is how much of a life I have away from the bike. Of course cycling is important to me but there’s more to life than just riding my bike. Christmas reminds you of that, I think.

Last week I spoke to Jonathon Bellis and his dad on the phone. As you know Jonathon was involved in a horrific accident a few months ago and is back in the United Kingdom trying to recuperate. It was great to hear his voice and we’ve already decided to send him a jersey for the 2010 season. I don’t know when he’ll be coming back but we wanted him to know that he’s part of our team and that he can use the jersey as something to motivate him.

My motivation – crash aside – is high right now. We recently had our Saxo Bank survivor camp. It was great to see all the guys on the team, both old and new and we had a lot of fun. As you know Bjarne Riis’ survivor camps are etched psyche of the sport – just think of the term training camp and you’ll immediately think of our escapades.

This year we started off with a night-time mountain bike ride before making our way up a mountain for a camp fire. We had to huddle around a fire while we each wrote down one thing on a piece of paper before casting it into the flames. Whatever we wrote down, whatever trouble or problem, it would burn away into the night and not return. You’re probably thinking that I wrote Alberto Contador’s name down. We’ll you’re right, but it was only a joke and I showed the entire team, who found it hilarious. What I really wrote down has to stay a secret.

Camps and Christmas aside, this month I’ve been keeping up with the latest news and I was really surprised that Bradley Wiggins moved from Garmin to Sky. To be honest, I didn’t like the move or the way it was conducted. Okay, he was under contract and he could have broken it but the fact is he totally denied that he was moving and then suddenly he’d moved. I don’t think that was cool and he could have done it more professionally. I didn’t like how he handled it. I hope he has a good 2010 season though. I’m sure he’ll do something big.

As for my 2010 season you’re probably aware of my schedule but I can now confirm that I’ll be doing the Tour of California. I can’t wait.

There’s not much else to say other than have a great New Year and thanks again for all your fantastic support.

Andy and the dog.