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Schleck ready to take on Contador at the Tour de France

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Andy Schleck (Leopard - Trek)

Andy Schleck (Leopard - Trek) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) at the start in Santa Clarita.

Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) at the start in Santa Clarita. (Image credit: Mark Johnson/

With this year's Tour de France just days away, race favourite Andy Schleck has recalled the so-called 'chaingate' incident that marked last year's race and his chances the overall lead.

On stage 15 to Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees, while he was wearing the yellow jersey, Schleck attacked Alberto Contador on the Port du Balès climb. But as he was opening up a gap, his chain jammed, and the Spaniard took advantage to attack and went on to gain 39 seconds - exactly the amount of time that separated the two riders on the final podium in Paris.

"I wouldn't have done that (attack)," Schleck said in an exclusive interview published in French newspaper L'Equipe on Thursday. "He said he didn't see it. But he looked like this [turning his head and looking over his shoulder - ed.] and then he attacked."

"A great champion doesn't do a thing like that. When Ullrich crashed into a ravine, Armstrong waited. When Armstrong crashed on the way to Luz-Ardiden (on stage 12 of the 2003 Tour), the other riders agreed to wait for him. That's what makes a champion. I was really very disappointed by his attitude that day."

"On the day after it, he came to say he was sorry. I told him in English: 'I forgive but I don't forget'. I think he understood."

A Tour de France rematch

Schleck is looking forward to a rematch against Contador at this year's Tour de France, saying he is happy that the 2010 Tour winner is riding despite his ongoing Clenbuterol doping case.

"I am happy that he is here: I want to beat him on the road," he said. "I want the challenge, I want a man-against-man battle!"

The 26-year-old Leopard Trek rider has been building up muscle mass to take on Contador and this means ideal racing weight has increased by a kilogramme.

"I have done a lot of working out in the gym to increase the power in my legs," he explained. "I've always done muscle-building, but never this specifically. Even in the morning when I get up, I do some exercises."

Schleck is 1.86 metres tall and so is 10 centimetres taller than Contador and weighs approximately four kilograms more (68kg). That might not be an advantage against Contador's explosive racing style but Schleck believes his power training will be beneficial.

"I worked on my power in the gym, but suppleness comes naturally on the road. I have that suppleness - perhaps not as much as Armstrong, nor quite that of Contador but I still climb at between 90 and a 100 pedal strokes."

The Alps are expected to be more decisive mountains than the Pyrenees in this Tour de France. Schleck reveals he prefers the Galibier to the Tourmalet.

"It's hard to say which is more difficult. The Galibier is higher, isn't it? (the Col du Tourmalet is 2115m, the Col du Galibier is 2642m). Altitude is an important factor. I prefer the Alps but simply because I find them more beautiful!"