LIEGE, Belgium (AFP) — Specialist puncher Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is feeling positive for the remainder of the Ardennes classics despite crashing out of the Amstel Gold Race.
But it wasn’t such good news for former Tour de France winner Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), who hurt his knee in the same incident.
Spaniard Rodriguez, known as “Purito,” crashed out of Sunday’s race after going down about 80 kilometers into the first of the three Ardennes classics. The 34-year-old complained of feeling dizzy and was taken to hospital to have his chest X-rayed.
But Rodriguez took to Twitter to say he expects to race both the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège races this week and, more importantly, that he will be fully fit for next month’s Giro d’Italia.
“It seems that there is nothing broken,” he tweeted Sunday night. “Thank goodness, it will possibly be difficult these next few days in the Classics but I’ll definitely start the Giro!”
Rodriguez would be one of the favorites if he starts Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, which he won in 2012. The final climb of the Mur du Huy is tailor-made for his explosive capabilities.
Schleck, who won the Tour de France in 2010 after Alberto Contador was stripped of his win for doping, was less positive about his chances of competing at the Flèche Wallonne or Sunday’s Liège race.
“I did the work I had to do to start the classics on good form,” he told Luxemburger newspaper Wort.lu. “I hope to show it in Flèche Wallonne and in Liege but I have doubts.
“Our Trek Factory Racing Team has competent people so I hope that we manage to resolve this problem.”
The 28-year-old was brought down in the same incident that took down Rodriguez when Tinkoff-Saxo’s Niki Sorensen crashed.
Schleck gamely got back on his bike and caught up with the peloton but 40km later he abandoned due to the pain.
His is due to be Trek’s team leader for the Liege race, which he won in 2009.
Schleck is desperately searching for some confidence ahead of July’s Tour de France when he should lead Trek alongside brother Frank. However, his last top 10 finish in a grand tour was in 2011, when he finished second in the Tour.
Schleck missed the 2012 Tour due to a broken pelvis and has never since recaptured his earlier form.