Liège: Schlecks are here to win

Andy and Fränk Schleck are determined to take another win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (VN) — Andy and Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) are determined to take another win for one of the brothers, in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic Sunday, adding to Andy’s 2009 victory.

“We are not here to do a Granfondo; we are here to win,” Andy said. His brother added, “It’s not that we are just here in this nice hotel for the free food and laundry.”

The two captains of RadioShack-Nissan spoke in a press conference with around 30 journalists at the Hotel de la Source, south of Liège, near the race’s finale – an area also famous in motor racing.

The Schlecks have been coming to the Wallonia region since they were little boys. Dad Johny, a former bike racer with Eddy Merckx, took them to the Redoute climb to watch Liège-Bastogne-Liège. They said they remember the years of Claude Criquielion, Michele Bartoli and Frank Vandenbroucke. But it’s also special to them for another reason.

“Liège is the only race in the year where there are classics riders and Tour riders fighting for victory,” Andy explained. “The climbs are long enough for the Tour riders, but not too long for the classics riders. You don’t see that in Paris-Roubaix or even Amstel Gold, which is nervous and you have to be careful.”

Even though Andy won in 2009, Fränk will be the natural leader as he seems to be enjoying better form. Andy dropped out of Paris-Nice earlier this spring, and the Volta a Catalunya “went bad,” he said. “I’m not super, but I’m not bad either,” he added about his present form.

The two probably won’t make their moves on the Côte de la Redoute, where they enjoyed those family outings, but more likely on the penultimate classified climb, the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons. The Roche climb debuted in 2008 and was the stage for the winning escapes in the last few editions.

Last year, Andy attacked on La Roche and made the winning trio with Fränk and Philippe Gilbert. In 2010, Alexander Vinokourov rode free after the climb with Alexandr Kolobnev. And again in 2009 on the climb, Andy attacked and rode solo 20 kilometers to win.

“I can’t tell you now what we plan to do. One time I went on Redoute,” Andy added. “Is it on La Roche? Is it on Saint Nicolas? We have to wait until the race.”

Sports director, Kim Andersen will guide the riders in the race. He has helped them with CSC/Saxo Bank and Leopard, and in their Grand Tour successes.

But looking to the future, Johan Bruyneel has asked Anderson to stay home for the Tour de France in July. Bruyneel is rumored to want more control over the two, who in the past were able to do as they wanted.

“I was waiting for that one!” Fränk said of the comment. “Kim is always close to us; he’s doing the prep with us, the training with us. … [In the Tour], we’ll hear from him at least three times a day on the phone.”