The Schleck brothers will sport a new jersey in next year’s Tour de France, but their same killer instinct remains intact as the pair looks ahead to the 2011 Tour.
While the sponsor backing the still-unnamed team backing Andy and Frank Schleck next season remains under wraps, they believe they will have the necessary firepower to finally win the Tour.
“We want to win the Tour next year, whether it’s me or Frank,” Andy Schleck said Tuesday after catching his first glimpse of the route. “We’ve been close. I think with a little bit of luck, we can do it this year. It’s a good route for us.”
Andy has twice been runner-up to nemesis Alberto Contador, who is facing a potentially crippling two-year ban and disqualification from the 2010 Tour. Schleck told VeloNews before the start of the Tour presentation on Tuesday he doesn’t want to win the Tour by DQ.
If Contador is not present at next year’s Tour, the younger Schleck would start as the hot favorite for overall victory.
The brothers take heart in a climb-heavy course that sees only one individual time trial on the penultimate stage and a shortened team time trial route on the second day, two factors that should bolster their confidence going into the off-season.
“I like the look of the route,” Frank Schleck said. “It’s definitely a climber’s course. It takes awhile to reach the first mountains, so you have to be strong in the second half. I think it suits us well.”
Andy and Frank always speak in the plural, when referring to themselves or their siblings. That underscores the tight bond the pair share that will grow ever closer as they lead a new team next year so far known only as the “Luxembourg Cycling Project.”
Team manager Brian Nygaard says no one’s hiding anything when it comes to the new team, except, of course, the name of the sponsor. Nygaard insists everything is in order and more detailed information is forthcoming.
“We’ve had the financial backing for a four-year commitment from June. We’ve had the financials in place since day 1,” Nygaard told VeloNews. “We’re just waiting for the right moment to reveal the name of the sponsor. It’s good that everyone is speaking about the team. We will have a strong team that can be ready to win the Tour.”
The Schleck brothers and several riders and staff have left Saxo Bank and their longtime association with Bjarne Riis to create the new Luxembourg-based squad.
Nygaard said the team has signed 25 riders, whose identity could be revealed as soon as this week. Several names have already been linked to the team, including Stuart O’Grady, Jens Voigt, Jakob Fuglsang and Brice Feillu.
“It’s a hard Tour. All in all, we couldn’t ask for more, parcourse-wise,” Nygaard continued. “We will bring a strong team, an attacking team. We want to win the Tour with Andy or Frank.”