Andy Schleck has endured a difficult twelve months since fracturing his pelvis at the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné and the RadioShack-Leopard man admits that he is unsure of what he is capable of achieving at this year’s Tour de France.
Schleck lines up at the Tour of Switzerland this week as he completes his Tour build-up. His last act was an encouraging showing at the Tour of California, where he completed the race in 25th place overall, and he is hopeful that the work he has done in the meantime will start to pay dividends.
“My morale is very good, I’m coming from a period where I’ve accumulated a lot of training and now, with this Tour de Suisse, I hope that the form is going to come,” Schleck told Le Quotidien. “In any case, I haven’t felt too bad in training, so I hope to confirm my feelings from training in a race.”
In years past, Schleck has often been leaden-legged at the Tour of Switzerland before transforming his fortunes in time for the Tour de France. This time around, he acknowledged that he would like to have a result of significance to boost his morale ahead of July.
“I know from experience that I don’t perform here, but if I’m not on top form, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be come the Tour,” Schleck said. “But I agree that this year is different. I’m looking for something to reassure myself. Although I don’t have any plan in my head if not to do the best I can and continue to work.”
Schleck named Chris Froome as the logical favourite for Tour de France victory, but was reluctant to guess what he might achieve himself in July, given his travails in the early part of the season.
“The truth is that I don’t know where I am, although I have thinned down a lot and I’m almost back to my in-form weight,” Schleck said. “Out of necessity, I’ve learned to be cautious and I prefer to be a bit sceptical [about my Tour chances]. I’ll know more in week.
“But it’s true that I have always finished my Tours de France well, and that’s going to help again this year. In any case, I won’t have finished working when the Tour de Suisse ends. I still have some quality work to do. And if it doesn’t work out at the Tour, I won’t have any regrets because I’ll have done everything to go well there. And there’ll still be the Vuelta and the 2014 Tour…”
In the interview with Le Quotidien, Schleck also said that he understood why Fabian Cancellara had opted to forgo the Tour in order to prepare for the world championships – “I would have preferred him at my side but I totally respect his choice” – and said that he was in the dark about rumours that Trek was looking to purchase the RadioShack team’s WorldTour licence from backer Flavio Becca. RadioShack is set to withdraw as sponsor at the end of the season.
“For the moment, we don’t know anything. I hope to have news as soon as possible because it concerns us directly. I hope that the team stays together,” Schleck said.
Asked about rumours that his brother Fränk – currently serving a ban for a positive test for the diuretic Xipamide – would be fired by the RadioShack team, Schleck said: “Frankly, I never heard anything about that story, so I don’t believe it.”