Tour de France runner up Andy Schleck has come in for both praise and criticism from RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel in the wake of his narrow overall defeat to Alberto Contador, one of the smallest margins in the race's history.
Writing his final column from this year's Tour for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Bruyneel put a philosophical spin on the failure of a team managed by him to feature on the individual overall podium for only the third time since 1999.
His former charge (and the man he directed to the 2007 and '09 Tour titles), Alberto Contador, also received a blunt assessment from the Belgian. "The outcome of the Tour was more exciting than I expected. This wasn't because Andy Schleck rode so well but because Alberto Contador was so disappointing in the final time trial," he said.
"In my eyes Andy Schleck lost the Tour in Rotterdam. The 42 seconds that he lost in the 8.9km long prologue turned out to be very expensive. Yet he still had his chances.
"With some dismay I watched his time trial in Paullac. With such strong winds, he was totally wrong on the bike. Just by his position, he lost at least half a minute on Saturday. His position on the bike was a disaster," he added.
There were also words of encouragement for the Luxembourger, who took his third best young rider title: "Andy can learn a lot from this Tour de France. He's only 25 years old and is still a rough diamond that is free. There is much to polishing," said Bruyneel.
"If you look at the final results and realise that he lost the Tour by 39 seconds, in fact his battle for the yellow jersey seemed over before it all began. Of course he will never be a great time trialist, but this is an area where he can still profit."
Bruyneel added that Schleck needs to learn to act like a captain, citing the occasion he dropped back to the Saxo Bank team car to take food and water despite being the race leader. Calling it a "rookie mistake", Bruyneel explained that despite maturing a lot in his riding, Schleck could focus on more details for future Tours.
The RadioShack challenge
As for his own charges at the Tour, Bruyneel dwelled on Lance Armstrong's legacy in his Tour farewell, explaining that the team will continue but he's unsure of its program.
"This tour was the final farewell to Lance in the Tour de France. I loved seeing Lance on the podium in Paris in his last moments as a Tour rider. It is also symbolic that we did so with the win in the team standings. Next year they are still riding, only we don't know where. In Australia we can [race], even California.
Bruyneel said that Armstrong's crash at the foot of the col de la Ramaz marked an end to the American's Tour challenge, one which was different in approach to those which had been so successful during that golden period of 1999-2005.
"Frankly, we approached the last two years at the Tour very differently for his comeback. From 1999 to 2005, Lance and the team were a machine. Everything went perfectly. Simply because we did not experience a loss," said Bruyneel.
"Since 2009 it was different for him. Both of us have become older, and have followed a similar path. This time it was much easier to accept. With age, you become more of a philosopher. Yet this year we enjoyed the Tour. That we were together on the podium on the Champs-Élysées was different, but for both of us it was beautiful."