Andy Schleck feels good about California, loved the mountains, the beautiful climbs, the solid training block.
Like many a Tour contender, the Giro d’Italia struck him as a good way to kill your chances. He saw what happened to Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso last year in the mountains of France and it wasn’t tres jolie.
Instead he traveled to California a few days early and enjoyed the race and the scenery and discovered his legs were doing just dandy. He couldn’t climb with Radio Shack’s Chris Horner but this was Horner’s race. The old guy was 10th in the Tour last year and at 39 years of age, probably not a deadly rival. Bald, but not dangerous.
“California was good. My form is coming along and it was better than expected. I started up again and did some good work but I was surprised with how well I went in California, said Schleck. “Last year I wasn’t this strong in California.”
Last year, he finished a close second to Alberto Contador in the Tour de France. Oh-so-very-close to that maillot jaune. If his chain hadn’t dropped, if his brother Frank hadn’t crashed out, if he’s been a tad more attentive, if the Spanish Cycling Federation didn’t like steak with clenbuterol, who knows, perhaps he would have been declared the winner.
But California is better this year and naturally the Golden State is a place for big dreamers. Maybe it’s the ocean or the mountains or the California chardonnay or the top grade organic marijuana, but Andy is on a vision quest and has his karma all dialed in.
“Contador has won the Tour a number of times so he’ll be favorite but I was closer to him last year and I’ve got to say that I just know that I’m going to be in top condition at the Tour,” said Shleck the Younger. “I’m not nervous; I know I’m doing all the right things. I’m totally focused on the Tour and I want to be 100 per cent ready.”
Still, we’re going to suggest that Schleck be at 120% for the tour. Because even with Contador now recovering from the most brutal Giro in memory, let’s remember he still crushed everyone by over 6 minutes. These days that kind of beating raises an eyebrow. He even did the final time trial on cruise control.
Cadel Evans insists Contador is beatable, Basso crashed on his face and is still looking for “good sensations,” Denis Menchov is off the invite list (but on the suspicious list), Jurgen Van Den Broeck is keeping a low profile and Samuel Sanchez ain’t saying much.
That leaves double runner-up Andy Schleck and his California dreaming. Vincenzo Nibali did his Giro dreaming on Mount Etna. Let’s hope Andy’s dream has a little more solidity.