Warmly wrapped up outside the RadioShack-Nissan team bus after La Flèche Wallonne, neither of the Schleck brothers was particularly happy. And they didn't have much cause to be either. When the more in-form Fränk suffered a rear wheel puncture with 10km to go, the whole team realised that his race was as good as run.
His brother Andy seemed more upset than anything else and, almost inevitably, he was less than pleased with the way the rest of the teams rode. "Why does nobody attack?" said Andy Schleck. "Why does everyone ride for second place, eh? Because, if you don't attack and [Joaquim] Rodriguez gets to the bottom of the Mur in the front group that's what you will be racing for, second place.
"I don't understand the attitude. If Frank hadn't punctured then I'm sure he would have been in the top 10 and maybe even top five."
For his race, it was clear that he was there to make life as hard as possible for the Katusha team. "I attacked to make the race hard and I was hoping that others would come up to me," said Andy Schleck. "After that I was a little bit in the red, so to speak, and I suffered a bit in the final. Plus I decided to wait for Fränk after he punctured to get him back to the front again but we knew after the puncture that my race was run.
"Our form in the team isn't that bad – there's nothing you can do about a puncture so close to the finish is there? It's just bad luck and, since the start of this season, bad luck is all we have had (recalling Fabian Cancellara's collarbone breaking crash in the Tour of Flanders).
"The main thing is though that we know we'll be there in the finale of Liège this Sunday, we'll be there," said a determined Andy Schleck.
And, if the unlucky puncture wasn't enough, RadioShack-Nissan rider Ben Hermans crashed out early in the race, grazing his knee, elbow and hip. He pulled out of the race but, if he's fit enough and his knee is OK, he'll be on the start line for Liège-Bastogne-Liège this Sunday. If not, the Schleck brothers will have one less teammate to make life difficult for the rest of the bunch as the team had no plans to draft in a late replacement. More bad luck…
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