Schleck headed for Beijing, but not a ‘comeback’ just yet

Andy Schleck is confirmed for the Tour of Beijing, but says his real comeback will happen when he opens his 2013 season

After abandoning his first race in four months under miserable conditions, Andy Schleck said Tuesday that the Tour of Beijing would be the next stop in his preparation for a comeback in 2013.

“Don’t call this my comeback,” said Schleck. “My real comeback will be next year when I will be in good shape at the start of my races, but I look forward to making the start and finish at the Tour of Beijing.”

Schleck will headline RadioShack-Nissan at the five-day WorldTour race, which has drawn ire due to the rescission of Dutch squad Argos-Shimano’s invitation. Organizers have claimed that that move was due to political tensions between China and Japan, home of Shimano. Nissan is also a Japanese company, but the Luxembourg-based ProTeam has not indicated that it would skip the event.

“The weather will be better than in Luxembourg in October and I need to finish the 2012 season on a positive note,” said Schleck. “Binche-Tournai-Binche [on Tuesday] was hard for me because of the rain, speed and wind, but I was very happy to be back in the peloton. It was a very nice feeling to pin on my race number in the morning, as well to see the people waiting and cheering for me.”

Schleck suffered a fractured pelvis in a crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné in early June when a strong wind toppled him in the time trial. He was forced to skip the Tour de France and missed two subsequent planned starts due to lingering pain.

Joining Schleck for RadioShack in Beijing will be 2011 best young rider Ben King, Jan Bakelants, Daniele Bennati, Jan Bakelants, George Bennett, Hayden Roulston and Haimar Zubeldia. The team will chase stage wins above all else, said director José Azevedo.

“We were there last year and got a second place on a stage and were present on the podium almost every day with Ben King who won the best young rider jersey,” said Azevedo. “Ben will be in Beijing again, but our leader will be Daniele Bennati. He is able to win one or more stages.”

The Tour of Beijing runs October 9-13 and closes the 2012 WorldTour.