Stage 3 of the Tour de France from Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut was full of mixed emotions for the Schleck brothers and their Saxo Bank team. The Danish squad regained the yellow jersey through Fabian Cancellara, while Andy Schleck took vital time out of all but one of his GC rivals. However, Andy Schleck's older brother Fränk crashed out of the race with a broken collarbone.
Andy Schleck now sits 6th overall, with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) 28 seconds ahead and Alberto Contador (Astana), Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) both trailing the Luxembourg rider.
The loss of Fränk, who recently won the Tour de Suisse and who was touted as a possible Tour winner, will be a huge blow for the team when the race enters the mountains. Last year the brothers were never far from each other's side, often taking turns to attack eventual winner Alberto Contador. Andy finished second overall in Paris and Fränk fifth.
While Fränk was taken to hospital it was up to Andy to talk to the press outside the team bus, clearly upset by the day's events.
"It's not nice to lose a teammate, especially my brother, but I just hope it's the collarbone. I don't really care if he's in the race or not. I just want him to be okay, that's most important," he said.
"We knew it was going to split up and the goal for me was to stay on Fabian's wheel. The Tour isn't decided today and there's still the Pyrenees and the Alps to come.
"Everyone said that Schleck was too light to go over the cobblestones and I showed them that I can do pretty good."
With Fränk out of the Tour, the Saxo Bank arsenal is irreparably damaged ahead of the mountains. However, Andy was quick to add that the team's aggressive style of racing won't change. Tour de France debutant Jakob Fuglsang will now step up and act as Andy's closest ally in the mountains.
"The tactics won't change. I've said it before and I'll say it again when this stage was over I was going to cross it off and tonight I'll have a beer and take it easy tomorrow," he said before escaping to the team bus.
Teammate Matti Breschel was one of the Saxo Bank riders who waited for Fränk when he crashed.
"We did a really good job and showed that we were the strongest team and if Fränk hadn't crashed we could have been pretty satisfied," said Fuglsang. "That's what we wanted. To take the jersey, try and win a stage and not lose time with Fränk and Andy. We almost pulled it off.
"I stopped and tried to help Fränk but he was pretty damaged. He was in shock and it was total chaos."
Another teammate, Stuart O'Grady, rolled over the line in a group containing Armstrong and Mark Cavendish. "It's devastating for the team," said O'Grady. "It's bike racing and it's been carnage every stage so far and today was the cherry on the cake. There's nothing to do, you have to continue racing. We had a plan and that was to get everyone over the finish line in one piece and take the yellow back. We did part of that and we'll dedicate yellow to Fränk."
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