Despite having had polar opposite fortunes on the cobblestones of stage 3 of the Tour de France, brothers Fränk and Andy Schleck are of the same opinion that the pavé have no place in a Grand Tour.
While Andy picked up much of the 41 second lead he now enjoys over Alberto Contador on the stage to Arenberg, his older brother crashed out of the race on the most critical sector of cobbles and is now nursing a broken collarbone as a result.
Fränk voiced his irritation with the race organisers for their design of that stage in the press today, and Andy backed him up in the post-stage press conference.
"A stage like that doesn't fit the Tour de France. For me it was a good stage though. I prepared for it well and managed to get a good result. But for those who want to ride the cobbles there's Paris-Roubaix, but that's their choice. It shouldn't be in the Tour de France," said Andy Schleck.
That said, the Tour's maillot jaune also indicated that his ability to overcome the challenge, as well as that of his main foe Contador, proves that they are more than just pure climbers.
"I went well over the cobbles and that makes me a more complete rider. Contador won the time trial last year. But you need to come with the best over the climbs to win the Tour, that's for sure," Schleck said.
Schleck can show off his climbing talent during Friday's stage to Mende when the finish lays atop a steep three kilometers long climb, the Montée Laurent Jalabert. On Wednesday, he predicted that about five GC-favorites would make it to the top together and on Thursday he added, "it will be a very hard stage. Also with the heat and the climb to Mende. It will be a battle between the race leaders so I'll be near the front."
With several intense stages coming in the next few days, Schleck and his GC competitors had a relaxing day during the 184.5km stage from Sisteron to Bourg-lès-Valence in the South-East of France. The speeds during the first hours were relaxed, and Schleck was seen chatting at length with Contador, raising suspicion of an alliance being formed.
Schleck denied this, saying they were only socialising. "I simply like Contador and he's a friend. Last year we went on holiday together at the Curacao race and we talked a lot there. I worked on my social contacts as there are a lot of guys I like in this peloton.
"I talked with Lance Armstrong too today and he gave me a Livestrong bracelet, without paying," Schleck said. "He said it fitted my jersey well.
"I talk with a lot of riders. Today more with Alberto, yesterday with Lance. There are a lot of friends around me. We talk about the race, the stage or tactics; not about alliances," Schleck said.
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