He’s said it before, but this time he means it: Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) insists the worst is behind him, and he’ll be back at his best during the 2014 season.
“I want to return to the Tour [de France], and arrive on the Champs-Élysées in yellow,” Schleck told L’Equipe in an interview. “I ended the Tour feeling fresh, so I am optimistic about the coming season. I am sure I can get back to my level.”
Schleck, who will turn 29 next season, has been dogged by poor results since crashing out of the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné. After struggling with pain and discomfort that came with his fractured sacrum, Schleck had all he could do to finish races, much less win them.
“Few people understood how bad my crash really was,” he said to L’Equipe. “I was crying in pain on my bike. After all that, with the frustration of not being able to race the 2012 Tour, I tried to come back too soon at the Tour of Beijing, and I had some ups and downs. Even if my career ended tomorrow, I would be proud of my results.”
Schleck showed glimpses of his former self during this summer’s Tour, riding to a season-best 20th overall, and going on the attack in the Alps.
Schleck insists he’s now riding without complications, and said his recent marriage and the imminent arrival of his first baby give him new motivation.
“I will race five or six more Tours, and I am going to be a father in March. Before, I just raced for myself, now I have other motivation,” he said. “I want to show everyone who has criticized me that I have not disappeared.”
Trek is hoping that Andy and his older brother, Fränk, will give the team solid GC options in the Tour.
• Andy Schleck’s tentative 2014 schedule: Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice, Critérium International, Vuelta al País Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour of Luxembourg, Tour de France.