Bruyneel and Schleck. Where’s the post-Leopard Andy?

The Andy & Johan wrestling match.

Is there a power meter that measures cycling data like this?

Andy Schleck wants long time-mentor Kim Andersen at the Tour de France despite team manager Johan Bruyneel’s decision to hand the keys of the team car over to his man Alain Gallopin.

It’s part power struggle and part psychological ploy as Bruyneel asserts his vision of the merged RadioShack and Leopard teams and removes the security blankets from Andy Schleck in an attempt to get him to win the 2012 Tour de France. (The Trek bike is the same but not much else and the Leopard scarves have been burned.)

The disturbing thing for Bruyneel is, despite all his changes, not much has changed in Andy Schleck’s form and attitude. If anything, there’s been a regression which reached a disturbing conclusion in Andy’s post-Liege statement that he’s “behind schedule.”

Remember that at the start of the season in the first training camp new teammate Chris Horner stated the obvious: if Schleck wanted to win the 2012 Tour he needed to arrive in France with better form. Less form wasn’t really the prognosis. If Bruyneel’s oft-stated goal was “yellow in Paris” then the Belgian is about to hit the panic button. You can be sure that Bruyneel has made more than a few late night phone calls to the Boss in Austin, subject WTF?

It’s hard to tell in late April exactly what positive effects Bruyneel has had on Andy Schleck’s form and attitude. Schleck may be spending more time on his time trial bike but there’s been no result to raise any eyebrows. On evidence, his climbing powers  are certainly no better than when he tested himself in the climbs in the Tour of California in mid May last year. That’s just an assessment from a great distance but the “behind schedule” comment is worrisome.

Andy will be ready in July for the Tour — he’s been second three times in La Grand Boucle unless you’re counting the post-CAS ruling on Alberto Contador as a tour victory. He knows how to arrive ready to hit the gas in the Alps. It’s just that “ready” may not be enough to avoid another second place. It’s not why a supremely confident and ego-driven man like Johan Bruyneel took up the job of remaking Andy.

Sometimes Twisted Spoke thinks that Andy Schleck and Tyler Farrar are in a similar situation: super nice guys who are missing that little nasty streak that makes the difference between first and second. Except for one time, Farrar has never beaten Mark Cavendish in a grand tour. We know Andy’s record against Contador.

Lance Armstrong had a wide nasty streak and so did guys like Hinault. When Schleck dropped his chain, Alberto Contador didn’t ask permission to win the Tour. Cavendish has his angry, violent side and his also owns 20 stage wins in Le Tour.

When Bruyneel pulls Kim Andersen away from Andy Schleck, it’s not so much to assert control and have his trusted guys in authority. It’s to rile up Andy Schleck and get him angry — angry enough that he says to himself, “I’ll show Bruyneel what I can do in the mountains.”

There are now signs that Schleck the Younger is beginning to take responsibility for the slow start. “It has not been a good year for us. We have not been lazy; everyone has worked hard,” said Schleck. “But we cannot blame anyone else. We can only blame ourselves.”

The trick is converting a sense of responsibility into more positive results. Bruyneel is a master motivator — you don’t win nine Tour de Frances as a DS without knowing how to push the psychological buttons. Still, he’s got his biggest challenge with nice guy Andy Schleck. The issue isn’t who is in the RadioShack Nissan Trek team car. It’s what’s going on in Schleck’s head.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Sam

    I have seen similar ploys…I beleive it is Bruyneel’s responsibility to keep everyone guessing about how ready, how fit, how prepared or not Andy Schleck really is. Bruyneel is a master at having everyone off guard as to where in the readiness process his riders may be. We have seen it many times before. Every tour Armstrong won, there were always questions as to how ready he was for that year’s Tour,…and the track record speaks volumes.

    • jamessrq

       Whether its true or not, this is a very good comment because it captures Bruyneel’s essence perfectly. From ‘the fake’ that got T-Mobile to do all the work on a mountain stage to the sale of bikes to finance the ‘medical program’, Bruyneel is a tactical master and will give whatever impression he wants his adversaries to have.

      • No question that Bruyneel is one smart cookie. But man he sure misses the killer instinct that Lance had and Andy doesn’t. Matt

    • Sam, now if Andy could just channel some of Lance’s fire. Bruyneel does manage the flow of information but I doubt he’s faking Andy’s results so far. I think they’re off-track. Matt