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Saxo Bank strong, but Schlecks fall short at Flèche

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) speaks about his chances of victory

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) speaks about his chances of victory (Image credit: Richard Tyler)

Saxo Bank were unable to match their 2009 podium appearance at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, but the Danish squad proved the most active in this year's edition of the race, with Jens Voigt and the Schleck brothers prominent in the critical second half of the race.

Fränk Schleck indicated that the team will adopt a similar approach to Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.

Last year's runner-up, Andy Schleck, was again the best placed Saxo Bank rider, in ninth place, 11 seconds down on race winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team). The Luxembourg rider led the peloton on the penultimate ascent of the Mur de Huy and benefited from brother Fränk then going away in a late-race escape group.

However, despite being in a strong position for the finale, he lost touch with Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Evans in the closing metres of the race.

"It was a good situation, I gave it a go and it didn't work out - it happens, " he told Cyclingnews immediately after crossing the finish line in Huy.

Both the Schleck brothers were strong during the race and had been given a comfortable entry into the final 50 kilometres thanks to Jens Voigt and Laurent Didier's earlier participation in a breakaway chase group.

Fränk himself then sacrificing himself for his brother benefit when he formed a three-man break with Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) and Davide Loosli (Lampre-Farnese Vini) with 30 kilometres-to-go.

"I think again our team showed it's strength," Fränk Schleck told Cyclingnews, after finishing 42nd, in a group 0:47 behind Evans. "We showed that we were strong and that the bond between my brother and I is very much together - I think we did an amazing ride together today."

Although unable to come away with a result at La Flèche Wallonne, the brothers' tandem effort will resume on Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where Andy will defend his 2009 title.

The team's protection of the younger Schleck on Wednesday is an indication perhaps that Fränk will be the focus of the Saxo Bank's efforts at Liège. However, the man himself was guarded about the team's plan for the weekend.

"I'm not going to give away our secret or say anything about our tactics for Sunday," said Fränk, with a grin. "But it isn't any real secret that we'll work for one another again on at Liège."