Farewell Andy Schleck

Andy SchleckAfter almost a decade in the sport Trek Factory Racing’s Andy Schleck has announced his retirement at the age of 29. He cited slow recovery from a knee injury sustained during a crash on the third stage of this year’s Tour de France (Cambridge to London) as the deciding factor.


Schleck announced: ‘I’m obviously disappointed to end my career like this, I would have liked to keep on fighting but my knee just doesn’t allow it. Since my crash in the UK there has hardly been any progress. While the ligaments have healed, the damaged cartilage is another story. I have been working hard on rehabbing the knee but came to the hard realization that at the risk of irreversibly injuring it, this is the best course of action.’


During his career Schleck has taken four Grand Tour Podium places, taking second at the 2007 Giro d’Italia, the 2009 and 2011 Tour de France and having his second-place 2010 TdF upped to first after Albert Contador was stripped of the yellow jersey for doping.


His brother Frank Tweeted following the news: ‘Thx to @andy_schleck we spent great time together on the bike… you know memories are proud. love you bro. Cu’ – Frank will continue to ride for Trek Factory Racing in 2015 having renewed his contract for a further two years.


More on Trek Factory Racing at and you can continue to follow Andy Schleck on Twitter @andy_schleck


Trek Announce Tour de France Team

Trek Announce Tour de France TeamTrek Factory Racing has announced their nine-man line-up for the Tour de France and stated their objective as finishing in the top-ten in the general classification and taking a stage win along the way. Their 13 rider-long list has now become: Fabian Cancellara, Fränk Schleck, Andy Schleck, Haimar Zubeldia, Jens Voigt, Matthew Busche, Markel Irizar, Gregory Rast, and Danny van Poppel.


Andy Schleck and Matthew Busche will be the key support riders for the team’s GC riders in the high mountains, with Trek Factory Racing General Manager Luca Guercilena commenting:  ‘Andy will ride in support of Fränk and Haimar in the climbs. He will not have a personal focus on the GC. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re lining him up as a support rider for his brother and for Haimar: Andy may not have won a stage in the Tour de Suisse, but he aggressively raced well. Riders of his stature should have the opportunity to compete in the race that made them great.’


American Matthew Busche is the only rider of the nine-man team who has never raced at the TdF, whilst Jens Voigt will be lining up in his 17th.


Fränk Schleck Dropped by Leopard

Fränk Schleck Dropped by LeopardRadioShack Leopard Trek have formally announced that they will be ending their association with Fränk Schleck, the older brother of Andy, winner of the 2010 Tour de France. The decision comes ahead of Fränk Schleck’s doping suspension for the use of the diuretic Xipamide in the 2011 TdF coming to an end.


An official statement from Leopard read, ‘With the end of Fränk Schleck’s suspension approaching, Leopard and its partners have assessed the situation in view of a possible renewal of the collaboration with Fränk Schleck. Having finalized this assessment in a broad and objective way, Leopard has decided to not renew the collaboration between Fränk Schleck and the RadioShack Leopard Trek cycling team.’ It concluded, perhaps a little curtly: ‘Leopard wishes Fränk Schleck a successful continuation of his career.’


It may seem a little ironic that Andy Schleck’s 2010 win at the Tour de France was awarded as a result of Alberto Contador’s disqualification for doping.


It was recently announced that Trek Bicycle had reached an agreement with Leopard SA to acquire the WorldTour license following RadioShack’s decision earlier this year to end their funding support of the team (more on Cyclo here). With the team reshaping for the start of the 2014 season they have confirmed the signing of 2013 Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix champion, Fabian Cancellara – more here.



RadioShack Announce Tour de France Squad

Andy SchleckRadioShack Leopard Trek have finalised and confirmed their team for the 100th edition of the Tour de France, which begins in Corsica on June 29. Andy Schleck, the 2010 TdF champion, will lead the squad with support from Jan Bakelants, Laurent Didier, Tony Gallopin, Markel Irizar, Andreas Klöden, Maxime Monfort, Jens Voigt and Haimar Zubeldia. The Tour marks Schleck’s full return following on-going health problems after the pelvis fracture he suffered during the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné.


RadioShack’s Team General Manager, Luca Guercilena, commented on the announcement, ‘We are happy to see that Andy is back… Little by little he has come back to the level where we expect him. The Tour de Suisse encouraged and convinced us to give him the role he deserves and to give him the opportunity to have dedicated riders surrounding and supporting him. Of course we don’t put pressure on our champion. After the last twelve months it would be unrealistic to expect a podium place. On the other hand, the lack of stress and pressure can be a positive stimulus to a brilliant performance…’


In addition to Schleck’s not inconsiderable TdF form RadioShack’s chances are bolstered by the presence of Andreas Klöden and Haimar Zubeldia, both Tour de France specialists; Klöden has twice finished second overall whilst Zubeldia has finished four times in the top ten places.



André Greipel Wins Tour Med Opener

André Greipel wins Tour Med Stage 1Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel has won the opening stage of the Tour Méditerranéen, a 146.5km of flat, but windy, racing from Limoux to Gruissan. Already showing strong form this season after three stage wins at the Santos Tour Down Under, Greipel clinched yesterday’s victory in a bunch sprint finish that saw IAM Cycling’s Matteo Pelucchi forced to settle for second and Sojasun’s Maxime Daniel third.


Greipel commented on his opening day’s success, saying, ‘Today Olivier Kaisen and Gert Dockx deserve a special mention. They rode on the head of the peloton all day long… For most of the stage we had a backwind, so the cold wasn’t that bad. Because the time gaps weren’t passed on quite as well, it wasn’t easy to have an idea of the size of the gap. The preparation of the sprint was a bit difficult, because the signalization (sic) wasn’t clear, but luckily I could finish the team’s work.’


With considerably less luck than Greipel was Team Saxo-Tinkoff‘s Andy Schleck out of the race after abandoning Stage 1 with an infection of the respiratory tract – he will not continue with the remainder of the tour. After abandoning Schleck explained: ‘This morning I already had breathing problems. Instead of getting better, it just got worse during the race because of the cold and the wind. I didn’t want to abandon out of respect for the fans and the organisation, but also because I need this competition. After the Tour Down Under I felt I was in a good way and I was really looking forward to this race. I am now sicker than I was before. I need to let my body recover and I hope I can resume training as soon as possible. In theory my race program will not change.’


Andy Schleck is expected to resume competition in the Tour du Haut-Var (February 16-17).



No Return for Andy Schleck

Signs are not looking good for a return any time soon for RadioShack star Andy Schleck. Crashing heavily in poor conditions during the Time Trial stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné back in June, Schleck suffered a fracture to the vertebra that was clearly going to end this year’s Tour de France ambitions. It had, however, been hoped that the injury was healing well following MRI tests during July and that a return to the road was imminent; that now appears not to be the case with the team announcing that he would not be taking part (as was expected) in the Grand Prix de Fourmies this Sunday.


Speaking of his decision to further delay competitive participation, Schleck said, ‘The shooting pain when I go on longer rides can still not be denied. It starts from the hip and it moves down to the leg. It makes no sense to appear at races where I might not be able to even reach the finish line… I’m very disappointed that I couldn’t show anything so far this year. This has been a dreadful season for me and I desperately want to put it behind me. I still hope to return to racing before the season ends.’


It’s possible that his next target will be the GP de Wallonie (September 12), although the official line from RadioShack is that: ‘At this point it is not clear when Andy Schleck will resume racing…’



Back on Track for Schleck?

Signs are good that the fracture to the vertebra suffered during the Critérium du Dauphiné by Andy Schleck, ending his 2012 Tour de France ambitions, is improving. The RadioShack star has just returned from further clinical examinations and MRI scans in Basel, Switzerland and team Head Doctor Andreas Gösele has indicated that things are slowly moving in the right direction, commenting: ‘The MRI scan showed clear signs of a good healing, but the fracture is not fully healed yet. This makes us feel optimistic that with some minor modifications of his bike position, temporary of course, he can now look at being a pro cyclist again and train like his colleagues soon.’


Schleck meanwhile has been far from idol – ‘I have been doing quite a lot of alternative sports, mainly swimming. Basically everything I can do without pain was good. I didn’t want to believe that my season had come to full stop in that crash.’


Featured Features

Tour de France 2012

June already? That must mean it’s time for the annual Cyclo guide to the biggest event of the season – true to say, we feel, even in an Olympic year – with details of all the upcoming stages (plus a little history) of the Tour de France 2012.


2012 sees the 99th edition of the greatest cycling race in the world (sorry Italy and Spain…) which this year runs from Saturday June 30 to Sunday July 22, comprises of one prologue and 20 stages to cover a total energy-sapping distance of 3,497km. In addition to the 6.4km prologue in Liège and the two rest days on July 10 and 17, the TdF will this year comprise of nine flat stages, four medium mountain stages, five mountain stages and two Individual Time Trials (July 9 & 21) – there are also three summit finishes to look forward to. When it comes to stunning backdrops to the cycling action the TdF is always hard to beat and this year nine new stage towns, including Samatan, Abbeville and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, have been added to the roster; as Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, rightly says, ‘To love cycling, inevitably means to love geography and, additionally, the different regions.’


Naturally all of the big name teams will be present and correct for 2012 although there will be notable absences from a couple of star riders; Alberto Contador remains suspended for doping violations and won’t rejoin his Saxo Bank team again until August 5 (debate amongst yourselves whether this is a loss to the TdF or not) and the man who officially won the 97th Tour as a result of Contador’s disqualification, Andy Schleck, will remain sadly road-side due to injuries sustained in the Critérium du Dauphiné.


Arguably, the mighty defending champion Cadel Evans aside, this leaves the way far clearer for Sky’s Bradley Wiggins (winner of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné) although that perhaps misses the more complex and subtle points of pro cycling where team work and homogeneous ‘whole’ can often outweigh individual skill and ability. Beyond that, as Wiggin’s knows all to well from the disastrously race-ending collarbone fracture he suffered on stage 7 last year, the TdF is a race where anything can happen. And often does…


Before looking at this year’s stage breakdowns, Cyclo, as always, feels a little factoid session may be in order:


* The oldest winner was in 1922 – Firmin Lambot, aged 36. The youngest was Henri Cornet, aged 19, all the way back in 1904.


* Lance Armstrong is the only rider ever to have won seven times at the TdF (consecutive years 1999 to 2005)


* Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain have each won five times, but only Indurain did so in consecutive fashion, with wins from 1991 to 95.


* Seven riders have tasted double-victory with wins in the same year at both the TdF and Giro d’Italia: Marco Pantani, Stephen Roche, Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi (twice, 49 and 52), Bernard Hinault (twice, 82 and 85), Miguel Indurain (twice, 92 and 93) and the great Eddy Merckx who managed it three times – 1970, 72 and 74.


2012 Tour de France Stages:

Prologue (June 30) Liège – Liège – 6.4 km

Stage 1 (July 1) Liège – Seraing – 198 km

Stage 2 (July 2) Visé – Tournai – 207.5 km

Stage 3 (July 3) Orchies – Boulogne-sur-Mer – 197 km

Stage 4 (July 4) Abbeville – Rouen – 214.5 km

Stage 5 (July 5) Rouen – Saint-Quentin – 196.5 km

Stage 6 (July 6) Épernay – Metz – 207.5 km

Stage 7 (July 7) Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles – 199 km

Stage 8 (July 8 ) Belfort – Porrentruy – 157.5 km

Stage 9 (July 9) Arc-et-Senans – Besançon (ITT) – 41.5 km

Rest Day (July 10)

Stage 10 (July 11) Mâcon – Bellegarde-sur-Valserine – 194.5 km

Stage 11 (July 12) Albertville – La Toussuire – Les Sybelles – 148 km

Stage 12 (July 13) Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux – 226 km

Stage 13 (July 14) Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Le Cap d’Agde – 217 km

Stage 14 (July 15) Limoux – Foix – 191 km

Stage 15 (July 16) Samatan – Pau – 158.5 km

Rest Day (July 17)

Stage 16 (July 18) Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon – 197 km

Stage 17 (July 19) Bagnères-de-Luchon – Peyragudes – 143.5 km

Stage 18 (July 20) Blagna –  Brive-la-Gaillardev222.5 km

Stage 19 (July 21) Bonneval – Chartres (ITT) – 53.5 km

Stage 20 (July 22) Rambouillet – Paris Champs-Élysées – 120 km