BEIJING (VN) — Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) made it through a rough week that saw him abandon the season-ending Tour of Beijing on Saturday and lose team manager Johan Bruyneel under a cloud of doping suspicion.
That might be enough to knock some off their games, but the younger of the Schleck brothers was sounding optimistic at the end of his Chinese adventure.
“My legs felt like they did yesterday and I just need to get back on training,” Schleck told VeloNews on his unplanned departure from the race. “I am happy I am here. I am glad to be back in the peloton.”
It was hard for Schleck, who suffered the humiliation of getting dropped during Friday’s fourth stage on a series of third-category climbs and finishing more than 15 minutes behind the pack.
He started Saturday as the lanterne rouge, certainly the first time of his career to be in that position in a stage race, and pulled out about after one hour of racing when the course tipped back upward.
After spending most of the summer in rehab following his debilitating crash in June, which saw him sidelined for both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, Schleck tried to look at the bright side.
” It was important to race. I needed to get back to racing,” Schleck continued. “Of course, I knew I wasn’t going to win or even come close. Just being here was good for me.”
Schleck said his off-season will be a busy one. While many of his teammates might be heading to the beach, he will be hitting the road.
“I will be training and more training,” he said. “Maybe I will start the season at (Tour) Down Under or Argentina. I will be spending a lot of the winter in Spain where the weather is better.”
Schleck was miles away from the drama unfolding around his RadioShack-Nissan team.
Bruyneel stepped down as general manager following the devastating U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that linked him to an international doping ring covering more than a decade with the U.S. Postal Service, Discovery Channel and Astana teams.
“I haven’t read so much. I just got the news this morning,” Schleck said. “If I do not have a clear head, I do not like to comment.”
The team’s future is uncertain, but Schleck told VeloNews earlier this week he plans to honor the remaining two years of his contract with the team.
According to sources, funding is guaranteed through 2013, with RadioShack confirmed to stay on as sponsor for at least next season.
The departure of Bruyneel — who is facing a possible lifetime ban for links to the doping conspiracy alleged in unflinching detail this week by USADA — will take some pressure off the team.
Schleck said in an interview with VeloNews earlier this week, he’s happy to put the 2012 season in the rearview mirror.
“This was my hardest season as a pro, no doubt,” he said. “There have been a lot of things going on. What I want to do is going back to being a bike racer.”