Schleck ready to challenge Contador at the Tour de France

Luxembourg time trial champion Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek)

Luxembourg time trial champion Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Andy Schleck has welcomed Alberto Contador’s announcement that he will ride this year’s Tour de France, insisting he has done everything he can to be ready to take on the Spaniard in the battle for the yellow jersey come July.

Schleck started the Tour de Suisse, his final build-up race for the Tour de France, on Saturday but finished 147th in the 7.1km opening time trial after dropping his chain and being forced to change bikes. He shrugged off the problem and played down the significance of Contador’s announcement.

“Honestly, I’m happy (that Contador is riding),” French newspaper L’Equipe reported him as saying.

“I want to beat him on the road and that’s what I’ve prepared for. I’ve studied the stages and I love the route. Anyway it’s not a surprise. We knew that after riding the Giro he was preparing for the Tour.”

“Alberto’s problem is… how do we say… black or white. If no legal authority stands against his decision, that means he’s in the right (to race). Last year, our duel was very exciting and that's what I remember about it.”

L’Equipe suggested that Schleck was feigning interest in Contador’s decision to ride the Tour de France. But team manager Brian Nygaard insisted that the Leopard Trek team leader was focused on his own race, rather than that of his biggest rival.

"I can assure you that not true,” Nygaard told L’Equipe. “When we speak, it’s about equipment or the team for the July, but never about Contador. If Contador was a concern, he would come up in our discussions. Sometimes people consider him to have a certain immaturity but that doesn’t bother him. Andy is 26 years old and is simply a rider who is relaxed and happy.”

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