By Justin Davis, Agence France Presse
According to their father, CSC duo Frank and Andy Schleck rarely talk of the sport that has put them into the global spotlight.
But when they do get round to talking of their profession in the Schleck household, it usually centers on the Tour de France yellow jersey.
On Sunday, Frank realized one of his boyhood dreams when he pulled on the yellow jersey with a seven second lead on Austrian Bernhard Kohl of the Gerolsteiner team, with former leader and last year’s runner-up Cadel Evans just one second further off the pace.
With the Tour set for two crucial days in the Alps, Schleck is hoping to use his CSC team to full effect in a bid to repel a handful of rivals who are all within a minute of his lead.
For now, the 28-year-old — the second Luxembourger this year to wear the yellow jersey after Kim Kirchen – just wants to soak it all up.
“He is very proud,” said father Johnny Schleck, a former professional who competed alongside Belgian legend Eddy Merckx.
“We don’t talk much about cycling at home but when we do it is usually about the yellow jersey.”
Frank Schleck, however, is well aware the race to top the standings in Paris on July 27 is only just beginning.
Schleck said he took note of Evans’ form on the final climb of the 15th stage: “I saw that he was following me, and he looked as though he was suffering a bit.”
But for former CSC teammate Vande Velde, Schleck had kinder words: “He’s looking good, very sharp and very thin. After I got the yellow jersey he was one of the first guys to text me.”
Whether Frank Schleck, or indeed his co-team leader Carlos Sastre, who is sixth overall at 49, can leave their rivals trailing is yet to be seen.
If either wants to win the race it is imperative they leave Evans — a respected time triallist — in their wake by over two minutes ahead of Saturday’s 53km race against the clock.
CSC team manager Bjarne Riis believes Schleck’s feat on Sunday, when he left Evans trailing in the final half kilometer, could prove to be a turning point.
“Yesterday we saw that he was able to leave Evans behind, although I had to tell him, ‘if you want this jersey you have to attack now. If you want to win it’s going to hurt’,” said Riis.
Now Riis hopes Schleck will leave behind one of the fears that could prove so deadly to Evans, and Menchov.
“He’s afraid he’ll blow up (if he attacks),” added Riis.
“But sometime you have to forget those fears, and leave your brain behind.
“He’s still young and still a sensitive guy. But I believe he’s ready to win the Tour.”