It’s not about the beer, it’s the cake.
He’s got plenty of birthday helpers on his Leopard Trek team — his brother Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Fabian Wegmann, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt and Maxime Monfort. (Jens will turn himself inside and out to make sure Frank gets that cake.)
“We’re motivated to do well in all three of the races that are coming up. The team is on form, it’s virtually the same line-up as for Criterium International with the addition of Cancellara, and we really want to do well in these new colours,” Frank the Elder told the Quotidien newspaper.
The man standing in the way — or shall we say pedaling aggressively — is Belgian Philippe Gilbert of Omega Pharma Droga. Schleck won the Amstel Gold Race in 2006 but knows he has to shake the faster finishing Gilbert on the climb of the Cauberg.
“I know I can win and that’s important for my confidence,” he said. “Amstel is an elimination race. You can’t be further back than 40th position in the peloton in the last 100km and the closer we get to the finish, it becomes harder and harder to hold a position at the front. The thing I like the most is the distance (250km) because I’m an endurance rider. The longer the race, the more I perform and the more motivated I become.”
And this being his birthday, the more cake he can eat.
“For me to win on Sunday I know it’ll be better for me to attack before the Cauberg Philippe is the number one rival and is very, very strong. I think the Amstel Gold Race actual suits him better than Liege-Bastogne-Liege even though that’s his big objective. He’s can handle the climbs really well but what impresses me is how he is able to hold his form, that’s what makes him a great rider. However there is also Sanchez, Cunego, Vinokourov, Gesink and Kolobnev. We’ll also have to keep our eye on Freire if he’s up there at the foot of the Cauberg.”
Amstel is a battle of legs and wills and really, nobody knows if there is cake at the finish or not. That’s bike racing.