One might say that Johan Bruyneel is spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting his team leaders for the 2012 grand tours at RadioShack-Nissan. Certainly in Fränk and Andy Schleck, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and to a certain extent, Jakob Fuglsang, he has a glut of athletes who have proved they can mix it with the best over three weeks.
While some of that is certainly true, part of the problem may also lie in the fact that he doesn’t know his best line-up yet either. Certainly Andy Schleck is the most threatening, and is the only rider who troubled Alberto Contador when the Spaniard was mildly off-form in 2010. Yet in Klöden he has a rider who, although approaching the end of his career, has a Tour route that suits his capabilities, while Horner too can climb with the best on his day.
Bruyneel’s dilemma revolves around how to deploy both Andy and Fränk Schleck. Criticism from the media in recent years is based around the perception that each can be distracted by the other’s presence during a race’s key split-second moments, failing to seize individual initiative with tentative glances back once they attack. They say they thrive on each other’s company but their duality of leadership may obstruct them from yellow.
One option that Bruyneel refused to discount during the team’s presentation last week could involve both Schlecks arriving at the Tour de France but at different levels of form, opening up the possibility of Fränk targeting the Giro d’Italia straight after the Ardennes Classics.
“They’re going to do the Tour de France together but what I’m saying is I’m not sure whether they’ll both peak together at 100 per cent,” Bruyneel told Cyclingnews.
“Maybe one of them will make it a big goal and the other will make it 85 per cent a possibility.”
When pressed on the Giro option for older sibling Fränk, Bruyneel only added: “I’m not ruling it out. I’m not saying yes or no, but it could be a possibility.”
The key could to all this could be answered next week in Lausanne. The Contador hearing should at least come to a semi-conclusion and with that the peloton will know where the best grand tour rider of his generation will spend July – the beach or the Tour de France. For now, Bruyneel has options.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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