Schleck machine

Tom Boonen (l) and Andy Schleck shoot the breeze in Marseille as the stage started.

Tom Boonen (l) and Andy Schleck shoot the breeze in Marseille as the stage started. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Damn this Twitter malarkey. Sorry everyone but I’ve just joined the 21st century and signed up to Twitter – the fastest growing way tell the world about each time you brush your teeth, blink or even think about blinking. A friend recommended I should join, I’ve been on it for the last week and I’m starting to get used to it now, although don't expect any Tweets from the peloton.

But my main focus, unsurprisingly, has been on the Tour de France. As you’ll have seen it’s been a hard but exciting race so far, from the stage in Monaco, to the cross winds on stage three and then the lung-busting effort in yesterday’s team time trial.

Everything got off to a great start on Saturday. The hotel in Monaco was the nicest place I’ve ever stayed in and I didn’t really want to leave. As for my performance in the time trial, I was pretty happy to finish in the top twenty. When I crossed the line I thought I’d done badly but that’s always the way with racing against the clock, isn’t it? There are times when you think you’re flying up the climbs and when you finish you’re way down and then there are times like Sunday when you feel like you’re dragging yourself along and then you end up with a respectable time.

I guess it shows that I was really digging deep. I’ve put a lot of work into my time trialling this year. You could be forgiven for thinking I had my feet up the day after I’d won Liege but instead I was out testing my time trial bike at 10am. If you want to lay the foundations for success you have to start early.

I can’t move on without talking about Fabian . He has been immense in both time trials. You could see how strong he was in yesterday’s team time trial when he was pulling the entire team along.

Personally, it was a very hard stage. It’s difficult to describe just how tough the team time trial is. In an individual test you can ride at your level and adjust the level of pain by backing off but in a team effort you can’t do that. You have to adapt to the efforts of others. I could have gone a bit faster on the climbs, perhaps, but on the flat run in I couldn’t pass Fabian, who was doing an incredible 75km/h!

Overall, the team are happy with the performance. We don’t have the same amount of time trial specialists as Garmin, Columbia or Astana, so to beat two of those teams and retain the yellow jersey is a great result for us. Hats off to Astana though, they were the strongest team.

However, I have to join the chorus of rider that criticised the course. This is the Tour de France and the organisers can pick any road they want to. So why seek out some of the smallest and most dangerous roads in the country?

The next big test will come on Friday when we climb up towards Arcalis. I can’t really predict what exactly will happen but I know the race is going to split up and we’ll see just how good my form is on the final climb. I’ll give it everything and I hope I can stay in front and maybe even a little bit further in front, if you know what I mean.

But Friday is just one day, every day is hard at the Tour and you need a lot of energy for the final week of the Tour.

Speaking of which, it’s time for dinner and then some much needed rest

I can’t move on without talking about Fabian. He has been immense in both time trials. You could see how strong he was in yesterday’s team time trial when he was pulling the entire team along.

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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

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