Leopard Trek team manager Kim Andersen believes the closing time trial could now prove decisive in determining the winner of this year's Tour de France, and that it was a ‘worry’ for the Luxembourg squad.
Speaking at the second rest day press conference, Anderson agreed that upcoming Alpine stages may not prove as decisive as previously thought and the Grenoble time trial on Saturday could decide the winner.
Before the Tour started, the mountainous parcours looked ideally suited to the Schleck brothers’ strong climbing and would outweigh Cadel Evans (BMC) and other TT specialists’ advantage against the clock. But with the Pyrenees over, the chances to land a decisive blow are dwindling.
However Andersen said that the mood in the team was good.
“We’re confident, the team has good morale and I think we can do well,” he told Cyclingnews. “I still think we have more time on some of the others than we expected,” he said referring to the 20 seconds Fränk gained at Luz-Ardiden and crashes which have contributed to Alberto Contador’s current 2:11 deficit to the elder brother. But asked if he believes the Alps could end with a stalemate he replied: “Yes, could be.” Asked if it worried him - “Yes,” he replied.
Andersen also said two tricky descents to Gap and Pinerolo could cause time losses for the brothers, but the descents of the L’Isoard and Galibier were not a worry.
“No, I don’t think the big descents are a problem – there is always a valley after – they are not a problem, but there are two small descents that are very dangerous – the one to Gap and also in Italy. Time could be made there.”
Asked if team tactics would sway towards helping Fränk who is second on GC behind Thomas Voeckler, Andersen replied: “I’m not sure [whether we now support Fränk]. Andy is getting better and better so we’ll see who has the best day. We have to play the right person on the right day with the best players.”
Also at the press conference, Fränk Schleck’s frustration at the lack of initiative from other teams bubbled over.
“Perhaps I should not say this, but sometimes I feel they [other favourites] are just waiting for the time trial," he said. "The Schleck brothers and this team are the only ones taking initiative. If we don’t do it it’s going to be a pretty boring race I think. If Cadel Evans is going to wait and wait then I think he is going to be dangerous in the TT. I guess if I was in his position I would do the same. No offence to him.”