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"It was not a good day for us because Fränk crashed. We hope he is okay for the next days and more so for the upcoming races. But it was a lot of stress for gaining nothing in the end," Andy Schleck says

Photo: Sirotti








15.06.2014 @ 19:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Frank Schleck has had a lot of bad luck in his comeback season and today it all continued when he crashed on a foggy descent in the second stage of the Tour de Suisse. Having lost more than 16 minutes, he is out of the battle for the overall win after d day that also saw his teammate Stijn Devolder abandon the race due to illness.


It was one of those days. Sometimes the best of wills cannot overcome the external factors out of one’s control. For Trek Factory Racing it was a day to forget, a day to put behind them, and move forward. 


The first casualty for the team was Stijn Devolder, who lined up for the 181.5-kilometer stage despite fighting a fever overnight that left him weak and achy. He made it to the first feed zone before climbing off. He simply had no power to pedal on. 


On the descent of the Grimselpass, with thick fog draping the mountaintop, Fränk Schleck crashed. He would never regain contact with the peloton, losing massive time by the finish. Gregory Rast went down in the same turn of the treacherous downhill; a descent, he explained, that was one of the gnarliest and scariest he has ever done.


“On the Grimsel there was a lot of fog and I said to Andy and Fränk they should go in the front for the descent," Rast said. "And they did. I think first Andy was hit from behind, because some brakes are working and some not and you could not see more then 10 meters. And for me, I came from the back and I could not brake and rode full gas into a Europcar guy – sorry for that but I could do nothing. The problem was that you could not see anything; the wet roads, the brakes did not work, it was one of the worst descents that I ever did - it was so scary.


“Fränk was in the same crash - he was on the right side and I had just passed him and I crashed 20 meters below him. I didn’t see him. I jumped on my bike, and I was looking back and I saw another guy, but I did not know who it was. So I continued. Then Kim [Andersen, director] came on the radio and said it was Fränk, but he was so far back it made no sense to wait for him.”


The day’s token five-rider breakaway animated the action at the front of the race, and by the finish three riders successfully held off the chasing peloton to fight for the stage win. In the three-up sprint Cameron Meyer (Orica GreenEdge) bested the other two breakaway companions to take the win.


The peloton roared in 18 seconds later. Andy Schleck, Laurent Didier, and Matthew Busche were there, but missing from the peloton was the team’s GC leader: Fränk would roll in battered, bruised, and duly upset over 16 minutes later. His GC ambitons all but dashed.


“I think today could be considered the queen stage of the tour," Andy Schleck said. "There were three mountain climbs in a row, two which were hors catégorie. The weather conditions did not make it easier, either. It was not a good day for us because Fränk crashed. We hope he is okay for the next days and more so for the upcoming races. But it was a lot of stress for gaining nothing in the end.


“Personally, I felt pretty good, not super, but good. When they attacked in the last climb I could follow the top 5-10 top guys and that’s good for the morale for the next days.”


Fränk Schleck sustained injuries to his hip and head and was taken to the local hospital under the supervison of Trek Factory Racing's doctor for further analysis.


Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) retained the leader’s jersey with little changes to the overall classification despite the mountainous stage. The next few stages of the Tour de Suisse offer opportunities for breakaways, or a bunch sprint finish, and there is no doubt that Trek Factory Racing will rebound from their unfortunate day.



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