Fränk Schleck to retire after 2016 season
MILAN (VN) — Fränk Schleck says it is a hard decision, but that he will retire at the end of 2016 after 15 years of racing that include two Tour de France stage wins, a third place overall, and some doping controversy.
The 36-year-old Luxembourger with team Trek – Segafredo will likely end his career on October 1 at Il Lombardia. He placed third in the Italian one-day monument in 2005. He finished second and third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. And won the Amstel Gold Race in 2006.
In the Tour de France, he stood third on the final podium in Paris in 2011. His now-retired younger brother Andy Schleck stood on the other side in second with Australian winner Cadel Evans between them.
“I could mention a lot of moments that have stood out for me, but finishing on the podium of the Tour de France has to be my proudest moment as a bike rider — that memory will never be far away,” Fränk Schleck said.
“Right now I don’t want to become too nostalgic because the season is still long, and I really want to give 100% to the team until the very end of it. I would love to get a victory in the coming months; that would be a dream, the perfect scenario, really.”
Schleck raced the Tour de France last month with Trek – Segafredo, including American Peter Stetina, in support of Bauke Mollema. When given his chance, he showed that he can still win. He took his last victory in the Vuelta a España stage to Alto Ermita de Alba.
After the Olympics road race Saturday, the American WorldTour team has him scheduled to ride the Tour of Alberta, the GP Québec, the GP Montreal, and Il Lombardia.
When he placed third in the 2005 Lombardia, he raced with CSC. The Danish team, run by former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, offered him his first full-time contract. He stayed with Riis from 2002 through 2010. In 2011, he, Andy Schleck, and Fabian Cancellara joined new team Leopard – Trek. The Luxembourg team, with management and ownership changes, morphed into the current Trek – Segafredo team.
“There is never an easy way to stop doing something you love to do, but I’ve always wanted to retire at a level where I was still competitive and fit. I’m really proud of having spent a large part of my life riding my bike for a living and, above all, I’m extremely thankful for the friends I have made along the way,” Schleck added.
“The memories of the victories and the great times I have experienced in some amazing teams will stay with me forever. I will always be a bike rider, but leaving the professional side of things will allow me to spend more time with my family and to see my two kids grow up. I have mellowed over the years, and my family and kids became more and more important to me.”
Schleck has yet to decide what he will do after he leaves professional racing behind. His brother Andy Schleck, who won the 2010 Tour de France after an anti-doping positive stripped Alberto Contador of the title, opened a bike shop at home in Luxembourg.
Fränk Schleck’s career had its problems. He raced in the CSC team where, according to a Danish Anti-Doping Agency report last year, team owner/manager Bjarne Riis knew about or encouraged some of his stars to dope.
Schleck dealt with one of cycling’s most infamous doping doctors, Eufemiano Fuentes, center of the 2006 Operación Puerto scandal. He admitted in 2008 to transferring nearly $7,800 (€7,000) to Fuentes’s Swiss bank account. He said that the payment was only for training plans. The national anti-doping agency later cleared him.
In the 2012 Tour, he left after testing positive for diuretic Xipamide and served a one-year doping suspension.