Schleck to return to California, relies on family for support

The 2010 Tour champion talks about coming out of a tunnel and looking ahead to the positive in his long comeback from injury

PARIS (AFP) — Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) told a Luxembourg newspaper this week that “progress has been slow,” in his return from injuries suffered in a crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June 2012. Schleck also confirmed that he would return to the Amgen Tour of California for preparation ahead of the Tour de France.

In a lengthy interview published Friday by the Luxembourg newspaper Le Daily, two days before the Amstel Gold Race, the 2010 Tour de France champion said, “I’ve had the wind in my face, as they say in cycling. But it will turn.”

“I think I’m on the right track,” said the youngest of the Schleck brothers, whose 2012 season was marred by a fall in June and resulting broken sacrum. The winner of the 2009 Liège–Bastogne–Liège has abandoned nearly every race he has started in 2013 and said this week he was unsure when he would be back to full strength.

“I do not know when I’ll be fine. I do not know if it will be this year or next year,” he said. “I realize now that it was not possible for me to return to the top level in only six months. Since the injury, it is not as if I could train.”

To overcome this dark period and outside critics, Schleck said he relied on his parents, his brother Fränk, who is serving a doping suspension, and his partner, Jil: “She was always there to listen to me, even in the night.”

“I came out of the tunnel. Now, I do not want to dwell on it. It’s behind me. I prefer to focus on positive things and there are a lot,” he said.

After the Ardennes classics, where his ambitions are limited, Schleck plans to return to the Amgen Tour of California in May before a training camp and recon for the Tour de France, then the Tour de Suisse, the Luxembourg national championships, and the Tour.

“If I cannot even pretend to win [at the Ardennes classics], I will show, go to work, see how I am in the race,” he said.

RadioShack-Leopard for the 2013 Amstel Gold Race: Matthew Busche, Tony Gallopin, Ben Hermans, Ben King, Maxime Monfort, Thomas Rohregger, Andy Schleck, and Haimar Zubeldia