The off-season has been open season on Andy Schleck. Nearly everyone has taken shots, offered their critics and generally questioned Andy’s approach to everything on and off the bike.
The Italians think Schleck should give up his Tour hopes for 2012 and ride their Giro instead. Legend Eddy Merckx thinks the Luxembourger needs a grand tour win and if he has to skip France, then so be it. Sean Kelly said the opposite and insisted Schleck should ride the Tour.
At the recent RadioShack-Nissan Trek camp in Calpe, Spain, journalists had a chance to quiz the team and even veterans Chris Horner and Andreas Kloden had advice for the skinny climber.
Horner believes Schleck has to show up in better form if he wants to win the tour while Kloden made a pointed comment about the “brotherly love” issue that he thinks is holding Andy back.
Things have been tough on Schleck and this week his old director sportif and mentor Bjarne Riis hammered him. According to the Dane, Schleck isn’t serious enough to win the tour. The inference was that Schleck lacked that final bit of will power and commitment to reach the top step of the podium.
Cycling fans will remember that Riis threw Schleck out of the Vuelta two seasons ago after a night of drinking with teammate Stuart O’Grady. The Schleck brothers had already betrayed Riis by forming their own Luxembourg team and it was mostly out of spit that Riis publicly embarrassed Andy.
Riis’ comments reminded Twisted SPoke of a passing conversation we had with Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters. He said that Andy was a real party guy.
People wouldn’t be questioning Andy Schleck if he hadn’t finished in second place in France three separate times. He has the misfortune of riding against Alberto Contador.
The challenge for Johan Bruyneel is to make sure Andy Schleck has that focus. The single-minded “yellow in Paris” goal has been stated dozens of times.
Schleck will be spending a lot more time on his time trial bike this year. Perhaps he’s also working on his “seriousness.”