Andy Schleck’s two advantages for the 2011 Tour de France.

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Andy Schleck’s two advantages for the 2011 Tour de France.

Andy Schleck at Tour of California. photo: twistedspoke

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.

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  1. Jason Crawford May 27, 2011 at 11:52 am - Reply

    I can't disagree more. Andy was dropped in L-B-L and Frank had to cover the move by Gilbert and Andy only got back on because of the false flat before it kicked again. Then to see Andy dropped in the ATOC by Horner and Levi was shocking. Whether or not he was gunning for the stage, he should have the pop in the legs to stick with those two….nope he's having a bad year and I don't expect to see him riding for the win.

    Then to see AC in the Giro. If he attacked at the base of the climbs he'd be 25 minutes ahead of second place and not just 5 minutes. While the Giro is looking pretty brutal, I think AC comes out of this stronger than ever, rests for June and spins himself back in shape in the first week of the tour.

    Now with all that said, AC shouldn't even be invited to the Tour. If I were Prudhomme I would definitely bring Saxo to the race (Go richie porte) but I would certainly not invite AC. It kills me to think of AC going to the Tour, winning (which he will), and then getting sanctioned only to see 2nd place get the win two months later. That would be a disgrace.

    • TwistedSpoke May 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Andy said he never expected to be as good was he was on the Sierra road stage of the Tour of California. He was happy to be up there with Horner but had no expectations to be that good that day. Sure he got beat in LBL but that's old history now. I think his progression is fine, I'd worry more about his time trialing but I don't expect Prudhomme to keep him out of the tour. Matt

      • Henkio May 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

        You're right.
        Andy only peaks twice every year, the rest of the races is training. the ToC is exactly in the middle of those peaks.
        In LBL he got dropped only by a superior Gilbert and by his brother (who I still think is a better classic rider).

        The ToC is pre warm-up racing for him and he only got dropped by highly motivated midgets, Schleck will be there in July.

      • TwistedSpoke May 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

        Thanks for backing me up, Henkio. Horner is no midget but Levi sure is. I can't wait to go to the tour again this year, jumping in on stage 10 thru Paris. Starting to get my pre-tour goosebumps. Matt

      • Jason Crawford May 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

        I love the spirited debate. I more than anyone wants to see Andy win (if not a Belge then a Luxembourgois is the next best) but alas I don't think he's going to do it….I hope I'm wrong.

        As for Horner I have to love him and think that he's got a better chance to stay with the more punchier/dynamic Contador and Schleck than Levi who just grinds it out with Cadel and Basso.

        Should be good Tour but we'll see what crappy controversy overshadows the beauty of the race.

      • Brad May 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm

        Andy says he didn't expect to win every time he doesn't win. He rode out of his mind in the '10 Tour and Bert wasn't at his best. The difference was ultimately a mechanical, but you can't blame Contador for racing when the race was on. No way in hell Schleck can beat Contador this year. Bert is just too good. If you want to put money on it, you can have every other rider in the Tour and I'll take AC and spot you a minute on GC.

      • TwistedSpoke May 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm

        Brad, I didn't say Andy was gonna win, only that he has a good shot. I can't wait to be there on the mountain. Matt

  2. IdeaStormer Jorge May 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Egh…. I just hope Andy attaches some kind of contraption that keeps his chain on this time.

    First there was the Schleckanical at last years Tour, then the 2 bros on same team vs 1 fiasco at L-B-L. I predict the trifecta of yet another bizarre or asinine incident to derail Andy from victory! How can I predict a better story? Nice guys never win.

    • Rosco June 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      Just watched Stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse….Andy hasn't attached any kind of contraption to keep his chain on.

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