STAVELOT, Belgium (VN) — A rail-thin Fränk Schleck said he was unsure of his Tour de France chances on Thursday, and downplayed the tension that’s strained his RadioShack-Nissan team in 2012.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on the race and I don’t have a specific goal,” he told reporters at the team’s press conference, about an hour outside of the start town of Liège. “I just had to recover as much as possible from Switzerland.
“My shape is still good. Of course, since I’ve been riding a lot of races, my shape is not the best. But now, I’m very confident, but we’ve got to see over the three weeks how I’ve recovered. Right now, I don’t know where I’m standing.”
His goal, though, is clear. “As soon as you start a race, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Tour de France, it doesn’t matter if it’s the national championships. When you sign in, you start a race to win it. I’m not saying I’m going to win. I’m saying that the goal always has to be to win.”
This year’s parcours didn’t do the Luxembourger any favors — it sees more than 100km of time trialing, which made him an instant long shot to wear yellow in Paris. And his RadioShack team has pedaled through a storm of controversy and bad luck this season.
Andy Schleck crashed out of the Critérium de Dauphiné, and thus the Tour, and Johan Bruyneel found himself at the eye of a brooding storm surrounding his years as Lance Armstrong’s manager. He faces allegation of presiding over a sweeping doping program that spans teams and Tour titles.
Schleck, though, said that none of it mattered.
“We all know what we’re talking about — all the rumors. That doesn’t affect the team at all. I think we did our best results [in the last month]. Tour of Luxembourg, Tour of Swiss … I don’t think that affects the team,” he said.
“We have a team here that is very united … a strong team. We are 100 percent professional. If each of us does our best, that’s good enough. That has to be good enough. If you give your best, and you come to the bus and you’re tired, that’s good enough.”