Merckx: Andy Schleck should race Giro d'Italia

Eddy Merckx was on hand to congratulate Andy Schleck.

Eddy Merckx was on hand to congratulate Andy Schleck. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Eddy Merckx has advised Andy Schleck to race the Giro d'Italia, where a victory would be more important than a second place at the Tour de France. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, the greatest cyclist of all time also criticised Schleck's tactics in this year's Tour and said he believed that with the new super team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek and its boss Johan Bruyneel, no errors of strategy will happen next year.

Asked whether a first place in the Giro mattered more than a second place at the Tour, Merckx said, "First in the Giro. But he has to race it, too, and win it, which you can't take for granted."

Schleck has not participated in the Italian Grand Tour since 2007, when he got second and won the race best young rider jersey. Instead, he turned to the Tour de France, finishing in second place three times since 2009.

The 26-year-old and his new RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team have not established a race programme for 2012 yet, and with the Tour de France route including almost 100 kilometres of time trialling, the Giro d'Italia may also be an option. Merckx also said that Schleck's chances were slim should Alberto Contador appear at next year's Tour - but that there was also hope.

"Contador is more complete, Schleck always misses something," he said. "But Andy also has to race the Tour not aiming at second place. With Johan Bruyneel, he won't commit the tactical errors that cost him the Tour this year. Like when he went to chase Contador on the Galibier instead of putting all his chances on Alpe d'Huez."

In any case, even this would not have prevented Cadel Evans of winning the 2011 Tour. The Australian is an excellent time triallist and will be next year's biggest favourite if Contador has to serve a suspension for his clenbuterol positive at the 2010 Tour de France.

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