The Schleck brothers say they’re ready to take on all comers, not just Alberto Contador, and are aiming for all-out victory in the Tour de France.
Backed by a strong and experienced Saxo Bank team, the Luxembourg brothers are the top favorites just behind defending champion Contador as the 2010 Tour clicks into gear Saturday in Rotterdam.
“I’m not here just to fight Contador. I’m here to win the Tour de France,” Andy Schleck said Thursday. “I got a taste of what it’s like to be on the podium last year at Paris, and now I want to be on the highest step. I’m ready.”
The younger Schleck rode to second last year and Frank was fifth. Contador calls Andy Schleck his most dangerous rival, but Frank, hot off winning the Tour de Suisse, also says he’s ready for a shot at the podium.
“I am stronger now than I was last year at this point,” Frank Schleck said. “I pulled off a very good time trial and I won the Swiss tour. Last year, after the Tour I had knee surgery for problems that I had since March (2009), so now I in feeling good. I am ready for the Tour.”
The Schlecks will headline a powerful Saxo Bank team that includes yellow jersey-threat Fabian Cancellara, climber Chris-Anker Sorensen, veterans Jens Voigt and Stuart O’Grady, and Tour rookies Jakob Fuglsang and Matti Breschel.
“Frank and Andy are sharp, the team is ready, and we’re sure it’s going to be a great Tour for us,” said Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis. “We’re here to win the Tour. We have our best team ever for the Tour.”
Andy Schleck dodged a bullet when he crashed last week on a training ride, and despite some cuts and scrapes and some bruising on his hands, he’s otherwise uninjured.
Frank Schleck is also in fine shape, perhaps the best of his career, and his Tour de Suisse victory only fuels his ambitions for the Tour. Both brothers admit that time trialing is their Achilles heel, but they’ve also been working hard to improve their position and resistance against the clock.
“OK, it’s no secret that I will never be like Fabian Cancellara in the time trial,” Frank Schleck said. “We’re working on it. With help from Bobby (Julich), Bjarne and Fabian, I am improving. I am hoping I can show the improvement during the Tour.”
The Schlecks have a unique opportunity to finish on the Tour podium as brothers, something that’s never been done before.
When asked who would finish best, Andy said it best: “We are very competitive and we push each other along. If I cannot win the Tour, I would love it that Frank could win.”