Schleck and Horner. Two different Tour riders.

Andy on auto-pilot.

Andy on auto-pilot.

A tale of two tour riders.

As the Tour de France draws within two weeks of Le Grand Depart, it’s instructive to look at two vastly different riders who will mostly likely play a role.

We’re speaking of Trek’s Andy Schleck and Lampre’s Chris Horner. Both men who have won grand tours — Schleck, a gifted Tour and Horner, the Vuelta — but the two men are on vastly different trajectories.

One rider should be a podium contender and a lock to make make the tour roster, one is lucky to be alive and fought his way back to be in tour consideration.

There’s no sense repeating the litany of Andy Schleck’s woes since his cracked pelvis two years ago — and it feels like five years ago. It’s taking forever for him to even get enough form to merely sit in the peloton and finish a race.

Schleck the Younger had DNF’d the majority of his races and even the patient Trek management is now irritated, frustrated and out of patience.

The Luxembourger is a shadow of his former self. Once a dangerous rival and perennial Tour runner-up to Alberto Contador, now he’s slipping into irrelevance. His brother Frank used to play second fiddle but it’s Frank who now commands the attention and owns the better results.

What’s amazing is that it feels like Andy’s still recovering from injuries. But more than the cracked pelvis, we’re wondering if he has a broken spirit, punctured work ethic, fractured will, a cancer of the life force.

Andy himself has grown weary of late, repeating the same hopeful  plans and optimistic assessments. He seems strangely resigned, like he’s having an out of body experience, watching himself disappear.  There’s no fire, no sense of urgency, no understanding his contract his up, his salary on the chopping block, his career fading, his reputation re-written, his time almost up.

Now contrast this with what Chris Horner has accomplished since a car ambushed him in a tunnel near Lake, Como, Italy.  The medical report read punctured lung, broken ribs, smashed up face, multiple contusions, could easily have been killed.

That was on April 11th and here we are on July 20th and he’s telling everyone at Lampre he’s ready to ride the Tour de France. His team manager Brent Copeland actually believes Horner can be a dark horse for a podium.

Horner, at 42 years of age, over 12 years older than Schleck, just demonstrated everything that Andy lacks: ambition, toughness, willpower, tenaciousness, commitment, the list goes on.

Chris Horner lives to train and race his bike. Andy Schleck likes fishing and if the rumors and stories are true, more than a few late nights in the clubs.

Now consider that after the popular and inspirational Horner won the Vuelta, by far the biggest win of his career, Trek decided he wasn’t worth keeping. They did however stick with Andy Schleck.

There’s a high probability that both Schleck and Horner will ride the Tour de France. Horner will be there to race hard and Andy will be there to …. what, exactly? Shag water-bottles for his brother Frank?

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  • PooBah

    Did you ever stop to wonder why Trek didn’t keep Horner? Especially after he just won a grand tour? The dude may be likeable enough, but he’s one of the few dopers of now the most rampant doping era that slipped through the net somehow. Beyond that, he was probably the most blatant Armstrong sycophant and Bruyneel apologist in the peloton; all to simply secure himself on a Tour roster during a year when he had no business going. And I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me what he was doing in chasing down Hincampie on the Champs during his farewell Tour. I’m likely alone in this sentiment, but I will be quite happy to be done with Chris Horner when (if) he decides to hang it up….

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      WHat? No smile for The Smiler? CHris does have a past but it’s hard for me to guess exactly what he did and he spent many a year racing int he states where, with his natural talent, doping wasn’t a necessity. The again, maybe I’m wrong. He has a good chance of cracking the top 10 at the Tour at age 42. That’s pretty impressive no matter how you view it. Matt

  • The SuperStorm

    What’s going on at Trek Cycling anyway? Tricky Dicky Burke aka “The Mob Boss” chose the most macabre color scheme of Black and White (Duh – get a friggin’ clue), and it seems like the whole damn team is just going through the motions to collect a paycheck. The team is toxic and has a toxic environment.

    “Shut Up Legs” will most certainly hang up the Lycra Spandex at the end of the year. “Fabian the Librarian,” will close out his career with another team next year, of that you can bank on. “Eugene The Machine”, “P. Didi Didier,” “Felinni The Cat,” ( See Breaking Away) and “Come Here Watson” would all do better to walk away from this toxic environment. Better yet Run!

    I don’t think Geriatric Horner is ready for leTour and neither is “Little Andy Pandy” or “Frankie Goes To Bollywood” Bros. Schleck.
    PooBahs’ right, We need to put to rest all involved in “Operation Juan Pelota.” And that means owners and managers too!! Send Trek packing and lets get a young vibrant sponsor and a clean team to take over their UCI points.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      Super, geriatric Horner is killing it. Trek does seem a mess and is clearly in transition. WHo they bring in as GC riders for 2015 is going to be very interesting and indicative. I think Andy is done, no matter what he says. Matt