As RadioShack-Nissan Trek manager Johan Bruyneel never tires of saying, “the goal is yellow in Paris.” It ain’t easy just getting to France.
Andy Schleck’s build-up for Le Tour took a hit today as a stomach ailment took him out of Paris-Nice. “Against sickness you cannot do a lot. I need to let my body recover from this,” said Schleck. “This is bad news, I wanted to perform well in Paris-Nice, but I better not jeopardize the rest of the season.”
While he’ll miss the race intensity and mileage, the withdrawal is another disappoint for Bruyneel’s Man Up program for the talented but perennial Tour runner-up.
Upon taking over the merged RadioShack and Leopard squads, Bruyneel immediacy confiscated the Leopard scarves and forbid the pillow fights the Schlecks had enjoyed so much. He also brought in Lance Armstrong’s personal fragrance coach to develop a more manly scent for Schleck and insisted he take boxing lessons.
Bruyneel even forced Schleck to ride without a security blanket. Schleck the Younger rode in Qatar without his brother Frank and the separation was yet another component of the Man Up program.
However the new stomach illness has Bruyneel questioning the Luxembourger’s internal determination. “It takes guts to win the Tour,” said director sportif Dirk Demol. “Johan’s beginning to wonder of he’s too fragile. You don’t get off your bike because you have a tummy ache. Not in the Tour.”
Still there’s no panic in the RadioShack-Nissan Trek camp as yet. While Schleck could only manage 124th place in the opening 9.4 kilometer time trial and finished a minute down, he regains confident. “My goals are situated later in the season,” he noted.
For Bruyneel, it’s clear that the Man Up program will require some additional work if yellow is indeed the color they have in mind for France.