CHÂTEL, France (VN) — Andy Schleck will travel Thursday to train in the Pyrenees and Alps after a disappointing Critérium du Dauphiné. RadioShack-Nissan’s captain will strive to build form and make up lost time after a knee problem and a crash in the time trial.
His team remains calm. Sports director Alain Gallopin says Schleck can reach top fitness in the Tour de France next month.
“Andy is always good in the second part of the Tour. This guy is never tired,” Gallopin told VeloNews. “I spent with [Laurent] Fignon, and he was like this. He didn’t win a lot, never the Dauphiné, but after 10 days in the grand tours, he was stronger. And Andy is the same. He has a lot of power to recover.”
Schleck celebrated his 27th birthday Sunday at home in Luxembourg while the Critérium du Dauphiné finished in Châtel. He abandoned the Dauphiné on Saturday, seven days into the eight-day French tour. The team hoped he’d build form slowly in the race, but instead he suffered.
He lost three minutes on day two and nearly two minutes the next day. In the 53.5km time trial Thursday it went from bad to worse. He crashed and fell on his right side only 10km in and lost nearly 11 minutes. Two days later, he abandoned.
“This is a big disappointment. While I was sitting in the car and I saw the other riders racing, I cracked mentally. As a bike rider you are mentally very strong but today it all went a bridge too far,” said Schleck said in a press release.
He reported pain in the right leg and the lower back. “It just got worse. I was never suffering like this in a race. I couldn’t use my right leg any more. There was no other option than to quit the race.”
In an Alpine training camp ahead of the Dauphiné, Schleck suffered pain in his left knee due to a crash earlier in the Sierra Nevada. He had to leave the camp for Basel, Switzerland, to have it checked and lost three days of riding and training.
“Instead of checking the two [mountain] stages, he had to go to Basel,” Gallopin told VeloNews. “He needed three days to fix the problem, training slowly and coming back. It’s a little bit the explanation of the beginning of the Dauphiné. But when you see [Samuel] Sánchez crashed the first day and he’s here. And also [Denis] Menchov, he’s improving every day. That was what we wanted to do with Andy. Without the crash, it was a good race for him.”
Schleck will travel with teammates Hayden Roulston, Haimar Zubeldia and Markel Irizar to the Pyrenees Thursday. After four days, they will travel to the Alps, leaving only a week until the Tour de France.