Andy Schleck’s preparations to win this year’s Tour de France are going fantastic.
He says his form is further along this year, no real injuries, a solid block of training in the Tour of California and now he’s scouting the Alps stages this week. Then it’s the Tour of Suisse and off to La Belle France.
However, the biggest advantage for Schleck isn’t something he’s done, but what he didn’t do: ride the Giro d’Italia. While his only true rival Alberto Contador kills himself in the hardest Giro in ages, Schleck will be the one arriving in Brittany on July 2nd with the fresh legs.
Here’s what Schleck told Twisted Spoke about Alberto’s death-pedal Giro. “Everybody’s different of course but I could not imagine to go to the Giro and win the giro then go to the tour and win the tour,” said Schleck. “It’s just too hard.”
Contador planned his race schedule based on the real possibility he might be forced to miss the Tour de France if he lost his case at the Court for Glacial Arbitration in Sport. Now, based on the postponement of the hearing dates, it appears there will be no resolution until after La Grande Boucle is over. That’s assuming ASO director Christian Prudhomme doesn’t pull the plug on Contador. A possibility but not a strong one.
The truth is, Andy Schleck will never be in a better position to win a Tour de France against Alberto Contador. No matter how well he recovers from the Giro — which included what he called “the hardest day of my career” — he’s got to be a little weary. That’s the first advantage, the physical one.
The second advantage is mental. Every day of this grueling Tour de France, Contador will be forced to answer questions about his case, again and again, stage after stage, mountain after mountain. He has proved to be a psychologically tough man — witness Armstrong’s failure to break him down at Astana — but that can’t help but take its own toll.
It’s already weighing on him at the Giro, something Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis has underlined. “I think everyone can also understand the problems that Alberto is facing,” said Riis. “If he’s really innocent that it’s a really difficult situation for him to handle.” That kind of media pressure and scutiny will only ramp up at the Tour de France where everthing just simply more intense.
If we’re Andy Schleck, we’re enjoying each story about Alberto and his brutal Giro and every story about his endless doping case. These days, Schleck is one happy, confident Leopard.