Given that Andy Schleck has been the Tour de France’s best young rider in the only two Tours he’s entered, he can be forgiven for being less than ecstatic after taking the white jersey after Stage 7 Saturday.
Wearing the maillot blanc brings a team sponsor media exposure, but it also comes with time-consuming obligations such as the podium and post-race interviews. Saxo Bank has already enjoyed a week of media exposure with Fabian Cancellara in the maillot jaune, and for a rider trying to win the overall like Schleck, time spent in any other jersey is almost a liability.
“White is nice, I had hoped to get it, but I hope to change it soon,” Schleck said during one of many post-race interviews Saturday at Station Des Rousses, where he finished stage 7 with the main group of GC contenders to take the best young rider’s jersey from Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas.
On the virtual classification of GC contenders, Schleck stands behind only Cadel Evans, and with a summit finish on tap Sunday at Morzine-Avoriaz, many asked Schleck if his time in white jersey might be temporary.
Last year, the young Luxembourger was the second-best climber in the Tour, often the only ride capable of matching Alberto Contador, albeit not fully. Should a scenario similar to last year develop on the Morzine-Avoriaz climb — with Contador and Schleck riding away from the rest of the overall favorites — the Saxo Bank man could ride his way out of white and into another color.
“Whether I take yellow tomorrow or not, we’ll see,” Schleck said. “But yellow is the objective.”
Then, with a smile, he added, “Besides, you know, white is not a color.”
With a flat final 4km, Saturday’s 18km Lamoura climb was difficult enough to thin out the bunch, but not enough to open gaps between the overall favorites. Schleck admitted that he wasn’t happy with how he’d ridden, and that he was surprised to see Astana riding such a hard tempo.
“I’m a bit disappointed with myself. On the last climb Contador’s team (Astana) started racing hard at the front — too hard if you ask me, because as a result no one wanted to help them afterwards,” Schleck said. “We expected Astana to be strong in the climbs, they have only climbers on their team. But I don’t really understand their tactics on the final climb. Why were they riding so hard? And then in the end, half their team was dropped.”
“For me, I just followed wheels, and looked around to see how the others were,” Schleck said. “I believe tomorrow we can really say something. Now it’s up to me, but overall I feel pretty good.”