Skip to main content

La Vuelta a Aeropuerto

Andy Schleck and the Saxo Bank boys.

Andy Schleck and the Saxo Bank boys. (Image credit: Elmar Krings)

They say that the Tourmalet is tough, the Ventoux vicious, and the Bonette back-breaking, but nothing compares to the hardship, the graft and above all the suffering that comes with being in an airport for thirty hours.

They should make a race of it. The directors could drive around in airport buggies and we could keep in contact via hands-free phones. Each rider could have a trolley with all their food for the day and we could just do laps of the terminal. We’d drop Zabriskie as we speed past the comic shop, Jonathan Vaughters would take a tumble into Tie Rack, while you can insert your own jokes about who we drop at the chemists.

Finally, with just a select bunch of riders still at the front, the AFLD could do the frisking at the gate before Contador, myself and Lance give everything as we engage in a last ditch sprint on the escalator. My arms raised in victory, air hostesses would parade me around Duty Free.

"Will passenger Andy Schleck please make his way to gate 19. This is the final call for Mr Andy Schleck."

That’s me. Shit. I can’t believe that after thirty hours of sitting in Frankfurt airport I’m going to be late for my flight. Gate 19? Gate 19? Okay, I see it.

I came to the airport yesterday, but with the volcano and aeroplane mechanicals causing delays I’ve been forced to wait it out. But now, finally, I’m heading for California. The airport hasn’t been that bad to be honest. Despite the long hours, the queues and the boredom I’ve been okay. I struck up conversation with two strangers while I was waiting. One was an American guy on his way back from fighting in Iraq and the another was a young salesman. We got chatting and last night we went out for dinner together. It’s amazing the people you can meet in life just by luck or chance, and both these guys were really good people.

The Amgen Tour of California is a big race for me and the team. We have a lot of American sponsors and with most of our Tour de France team taking part it’s a great dress rehearsal for July. The daydream I’ve just recounted demonstrates just how much I’m thinking about the race already.

It’s some way off, but with the Classics out of the way it’s the new goal for my season. I’ve already ridden some of the cobbled sections from the first few days and I’ve spent some time on my time trial bike. It’s all about the Tour now.

But as I said, California is important too. I’m not going there with my best form – I’ve had roughly a week of easy to moderate training – but I’d like to come away from the US with a stage win, like Fränk did last year. It’s a tough route too and it’ll be hard on everybody racing.

One race that has looked really tough is the Giro. I managed to catch a bit of the first few stages and while I can’t comment on the route, I have to say that my teammate Richie Porte is doing a great job in his first Grand Tour. In case you don’t know, it’s also his first year as a professional and right now, going into the first rest day, he’s second overall and leading the white jersey competition. Impressive.

It reminds me of 2007, when I won the same competition and finished second overall. It’s a really long race and the last thing Richie needs is pressure on his shoulders right now, but I hope he does a good ride and if he stays upright, he’ll get the support from our team.

Right, I’m about to board the aircraft. I’ve just made it in time. I’d better get to my seat and settle in.

It’s going to be a fun ride. I’m glad you’re coming with me. Next stop, California.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Now just 23 years of age, Andy Schleck made a name for himself during the 2007 Giro d'Italia when he won the best young rider classification. The Luxembourger continued to impress in 2008, when he took the same jersey at the Tour de France while helping his squad to win the teams and general classification.
Schleck is the younger brother of Saxo Bank teammate Fränk. The pair's father, Johnny, also contested some of the world's largest cycling races including the Tour de France and Vuelta a España between 1965 and 1974.
The cycling world is expecting more big things from Schleck in 2009, and he'll be keeping you informed of his progress throughout the year on

* Index to all entries