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Fränk Schleck: team stronger despite departures

Saxo Bank's Frank Schleck after the race.

Saxo Bank's Frank Schleck after the race. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/

After suffering through a cold winter and light surgery, Fränk Schleck is looking forward to Saxo Bank's next training camp and fatherhood in 2010. With temperatures plummeting across Europe, Schleck had been forced to slow his training in the last few weeks.

"It's not that easy. It's really cold but the training we've been doing is just about okay. We came back and started doing three or four hours on the bike per day but we're still lacking the really long rides that we'll do at the training camp next week," Schleck told Cyclingnews.

However, Schleck's progress took a serious turn for the worse on an innocuous fishing trip with his brother, and Tour runner-up Andy, just before Christmas. After a day of training with the team the pair ventured out for a fishing trip - a pastime they regularly enjoy.

"I caught this tinny one and as I grabbed it to unhook it the stupid thing stung me. Thirty minutes later it was swollen like bad ass.

"I Googled the fish and it turned out to be poisonous. Ten days after the swelling came back and I went to the hospital and they had to operate and remove the bacteria. I had eight stitches."

Despite the set back there has been good news in the Schleck household, with Frank set to become a father for the first time in May. He got married to girlfriend Martine on New Year's Eve after proposing to her on the island of Curacao in November.

"I'm going to be a daddy. I can't believe it," he said, "It's due on May 5 which is a great date. April 25 is Liège-Bastogne-Liège and I really want to win that race and dedicate it to mother and baby. The baby will come right in my break between Classics and Tour of Luxembourg, which I won last year. So having it in between that break will be good as I'll be at home resting anyway."

In more racing-related news, Saxo Bank have gone through a small renaissance within their riding staff. Out have gone Kurt Asle Arversen (Sky), Karsten Kroon (BMC) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), while the likes of Baden Cooke, Ritchie Porte and Laurent Didier have been brought in to plug the holes. However, Schleck believes that riders like Matti Breschel and climbing sensation Jakob Fuglsang can step up and deliver when and where it matters most - at the Tour de France.

"Of course we lost Chris, Karsten and Alexandr. I cant' say that wont affect us but we have really young guys like Matti and Jacob coming through and Jacob in particular will be really useful on the climbs. I think we'll be stronger as we're more focussed and have more experience. We still have a really strong core to the team.

"I don't think we should compare the team to last year though. Every year it's a bit different but I'm 100 percent sure we'll be really strong."

Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson is the Managing Editor at Cyclingnews. Based in the UK, he coordinates the global coverage for the website. Having joined Cyclingnews in April 2008, he has covered several Tour de France, the Spring Classics, and the London Olympic Games in 2012.

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