Schleck brothers’ declarations about being just about to reach the top disposition are repeated like a mantra this season, and after unspectacular in Frank’s case and purely disastrous in Andy’s performance at the Tour de Luxembourg, they will head to Switzerland, their last chance to earn spots in the Trek Factory Racing roster for the Tour de France.
“Nobody is sure. The team will take that decision. We all have to wait for that and respect that decision.”
The French grand tour certainly brings back the most beautiful memories in regards to both Frank and Andy, so it comes as no surprise that participation in the Tour de France is season’s biggest objectives for Schleck brothers, even though they certainly won’t line up in Leeds as title contenders this time around. If they will line up at all.
After racing on a home soil, where he finished ninth in the general classification and fairly promising performances at the Paris-Nice and Criterium International, the 34-year old Luxembourger and Tour de France podium finisher from 2011 kept somewhat bigger chances to appear in the French three-week event.
“It depends. You don’t always have to win. You have to show that you are good and that you are ready. That is also what the team considers in its decision-making, it’s not always about winning. You have to show that you want to go to the Tour de France. To go to the Tour should be an honour, not a duty.”
“In the Ardennes classics I was always in the first group. I am competitive,” he told Cyclingnews about his Spring Classics campaign. “My shape is good. I am very optimistic that the race will once be in my favour.”
As Frank returned to competition this season, under the banner of revamped Trek Factory Racing team, after serving a one year ban for doping, he was attentively following Michael Roger’s (Tinkoff-Saxo) case. Rather surprisingly, the 34-year old Luxembourger made far-reaching parallels between both cases, in regards to proved innocence and quality of performance after returning to competition. Commenting on the latter issue, Schleck insisted that only lack of fortune prevents him from repeating achievements of the powerful Australian so far this season.
“Michael faced the same thing as I did. You know that you didn’t do something wrong but the procedures take long. Knowing you did nothing wrong keeps you on track, keeps you fighting and keeps you motivated for training. It’s good to see what he does. I’ve missed some luck up until now,” Schleck said.
While still believing in making the Trek Factory Racing roster for the Tour, Frank refused to comment on his brother’s situation, evidentially tired of being questioned about Andy’s inability to live up to once very high expectations.
“I know there is a lot of criticism about Andy at the moment. And yes it bothers me because they are always asking me about it. You should ask him.”
“It’s a normal process that there are new riders every year. They grow up and get better. They want to get on the big guys’ tail. It’s so much harder to stay at a certain level than to arrive there. You can go from hero to zero very fast. But also the other way around.”
Hoping to put on some good performance in the Tour de Suisse and other upcoming events of 2014, the 34-year old revealed that he aims to play the leadership role in cycling squad for next to seasons between switching focus to sharing his undeniably broad experience and grooming young riders into future captaincy.
“I can teach them a lot of things but the most important thing is to learn them to have passion for cycling, to have fun. That’s what pulled me through last year; my wonderful wife and my passion for the sport, my love for the bike,” Schleck said.
“Winning is my drive, it’s still very special. I still dream about winning the Tour de France. I know it’s going to be very, very hard but the day I wake up and I don’t dream about winning anymore, you automatically lose the passion and it’s the time to quit.”
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