2012 has been a disastrous year for Andy Schleck, but his directeur sportif and long-time mentor Kim Andersen believes the Luxembourg rider will make a successful come back and win again, despite it all. Schleck returns to racing today in the Memorial Vandenbroucke/Binche-Tournai-Binche race in Belgium, four months after fracturing his pelvis at the Criterium du Dauphine. Schleck is also expected to be part of the RadioShack-Nissan line-up for next week’s Tour of Beijing.
“I definitely still think of him as a future Tour de France winner. He has had an incredibly bad year, but that doesn't mean that he can't be a future Tour de France winner,” Andersen told Sporten.dk.
Schleck's only success of the year was being awarded the title in the 2010 Tour de France, following Alberto Contador's suspension for doping. He had problems early in the season and revealed that he had struggled with knee problems. Then the crash in the Criterium du Dauphine in June meant he was unable to ride the Tour de France.
The wind caught Schleck’s rear wheel on a sharp bend during the stage four time trial and he crashed. He finished the stage and continued on in the race before abandoning on the sixth stage. Medical tests later showed that he had suffered a fracture in his pelvis. His recovery and return to racing has taken much longer than expected.
The setbacks were “new to him in a many ways, and it has not been easy,” Andersen said. “And it has not made it easier with everything that happened to Fränk.”
Older brother Fränk Schleck tested positive for the diuretic Xipamid during the Tour de France and risks a two-year ban.
The 2013 Tour de France is expected to be one for climbers; it reportedly includes two climbs of L'Alpe d'Huez, Mont Ventoux and a mountain time trial to celebrate the centenary edition of the race. Such a mountainous route would favour Schleck.
“It seems that it is a route where you have to have a different approach to the race than in recent years. I can well imagine that it will be more for climbers next year compared to this year. It can help to set a good goal for Andy,” Andersen said.