Schleck brothers in the hunt for wins at the Ardennes Classics
Andy Schleck's winning attack at the 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Cycling brothers Andy and Frank Schleck say they’re in the hunt for a win heading into the first of the three Ardennes Classics Sunday at the Amstel Gold Race. Andy Schleck is a two-time Tour de France runner-up…
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Cycling brothers Andy and Frank Schleck say they’re in the hunt for a win heading into the first of the three Ardennes Classics Sunday at the Amstel Gold Race.
Andy Schleck is a two-time Tour de France runner-up who won the third and most prestigious race in the series, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in 2009.
It was at Amstel, a 260 km race held in the hilly Limburg region of the Netherlands, that older brother Frank claimed his breakthrough win in 2006.
The Schleck brothers have shown glimpses of emerging form at the hilly Tour of the Basque Country last week and go into Sunday’s race hoping to bag victory for their Leopard-Trek team.
“Frank and I have prepared to peak in our top condition for the Ardennes Classics,” Andy said Friday.
“We showed at Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) that our condition is where it needs to be.”
Leopard-Trek team manager Kim Andersen stopped short of predicting victory at Amstel, Flèche Wallonne or Liège but said his team was in the best condition possible.
“Our goals for the three races are to do very well and offer good racing to the spectators, both on the roads and back home,” said Andersen.
“I don’t like to say our goal is to win. Obviously, we cannot determine the outcome. We are well-prepared and we are strong, that’s what counts. We’ll be there to make a good race.
The Schlecks will be supported by teammates who showed good form in the Basque Country, notably Maxime Monfort, Fabian Wegmann and Jakob Fuglsang.
“The entire team is strong,” he said.
“Our goal is to be up there and in contention for the win.”
Belgian one-day specialist Philippe Gilbert is the defending champion and will be one of the big favourites after his victory in the shorter semi-classic Fleche Brabanconne in midweek.
The last time a Dutchman won at Amstel was in 2001 when former Tour de France stage winner Erik Dekker claimed victory, two years after compatriot Michael Boogerd.
Robert Gesink is hoping to end that famine, but is wary: “All our rivals know we’re riding ‘at home’ and it will be difficult for us to escape.
“But it’s no secret I want to be first to the finish on the Cauberg.”