Schleck admits to nerves in first Down Under stage

Former Tour champ says the finale of stage 1 had him nervous in the peloton during his first race in a campaign to erase 2012's bad memories

ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) — Luxembourg’s 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) conceded that he was full of nerves during his comeback race at the Santos Tour Down Under on Tuesday.

Schleck finished 1:19 behind winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) in the opening 135-kilometer stage from Prospect in Adelaide’s north to the town of Lobethal, leaving him 105th in the overall standings.

But Schleck wasn’t concerned about his finishing position, saying he was confident he would improve as the week progressed.

“I’m happy, it’s ok but the result was not so good,” he said after the stage. “Physically it’s ok, it’s just that I don’t feel so safe in the peloton. But that’s normal because it’s been a long time for me.

“I was getting really nervous in the end. But the next stage is going to be better because I’ll get the feeling back again.”

Schleck, who finished runner-up at the 2010 Tour de France before being awarded the race after winner Alberto Contador lost a doping appeal, is using the Tour Down Under as a comeback following a year marred by injury.

In June, the 27-year-old crashed during the Criterium du Dauphiné and fractured his pelvis, ruling him out of the sport for most of the season. He came back in time for a gingerly ride through the Tour of Beijing, but his start in Australia marks his real return to racing.