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For the first time in more than a decade, a rider with the last name Schleck won’t be racing the Tour de France.
The Schleck brothers were top Tour protagonists for the better part of 10 years, reaching the culmination of sharing the podium in 2011, the first brothers to reach the Paris podium in Tour history.
Since then, their dominance slowly unraveled. Marred by injuries and, in the case of Frank Schleck, a controversial racing ban, the Schlecks have faded stage left. Andy Schleck, once heralded as a future Tour de France winner, retired at the end of last season following a terrible knee injury suffered in the 2014 Tour. On Tuesday, Trek Factory Racing officials confirmed that Frank, 35, will not start the Tour due to a nagging knee injury.
Trek reported on its team website Tuesday that Frank Schleck has been struggling with inflammation in his knee ligament since his crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April, and even pulled out of Sunday’s TT finale at the Tour de Suisse in a final-hour bid to give his knee a chance to recover. An MRI Monday revealed inflammation in the “medial collateral ligament” as well as a bone injury that has not healed properly.
With that, Schleck will miss the Tour.
“Not being at the Tour, it’s a big thing for me,” Schleck said in a team release. “The Tour is the race I love most, despite that it’s three weeks of stress. I did a lot of sacrifices, we did recon of the key stages. It’s disappointing not to be able to race there, and fight for the team’s goals.”
Trek will release its Tour Nine on Tuesday, yet Schleck’s absence will leave a hole in the squad. The team is firmly committed to supporting newcomer Bauke Mollema as its outright team captain, but Schleck could have played a key role in the mountains.
Schleck hopes to rebound for the Vuelta a España, but there won’t be any more glory for the Schleck name in the Tour, at least not this year.