Is Andy Schleck Off The Pace Or Right On Track?

Schleck Tour de Suisse

With less than a month to go before the Tour de France Andy Schleck is well off the pace. When there is a climb or a time trial the Luxembourger seems to go backwards. Fans are frustrated, journalists exasperated and management nervous. Is this the 2012 Dauphiné? No, I’m talking about the June 2011 and the Tour of Switzerland.

Here’s the breakdown of Andy Schleck’s riding in the Swiss race last year listed stage by stage. As you’ll see he was struggling with the pace on some climbs only to put on a mountain masterclass on the penultimate day… and then finish second in the Tour de France weeks later.

Stage 1
An opening time trial, Andy Schleck suffered mechanical problems and finished 147th out of 160, 1.18 down on his team mate Fabian Cancellara.

Stage 2
An early summit finish, the stage went to the ski resort of Crans Montana. Normally home terrain for Andy Schleck, he finished 16th, 1.39 down on the day’s winner Mauricio Soler who profited from the marking of Damiano Cunego and Fränk Schleck to jump away for the stage win.

Stage 3
Another mountain stage with several big passes this time Andy Schleck went in a large breakaway and tried to help team mate Jacob Fuglsang. In the end he finished 21st, 3.41 down on Peter Sagan and Damiano Cunego who slipped away from Fuglsang on the final descent.

Stage 4
A bunch sprint won by Thor Hushovd. Andy Schleck finished in the pack.

Stage 5
An uphill sprint saw a powerful display by Borut Bozic. Splits appeared in the bunch and Andy Schleck rolled with the group but lost a little bit more time.

Stage 6
A big mountain stage won by Rabobank’s Steven Kruijswijk. Andy Schleck was 57th, some 14 minutes down. By this time

Stage 7
Yet more climbing. Andy Schleck missed the break but set off in lone pursuit and joined them on the Flüelapass. On a flat section ahead of the final climb Thomas De Gendt was set up by teammates Sergey Lagutin and Marco Marcato and jumped away, time trialling to build up a solo lead. Andy Schleck turned on the power on the final climb, dragging the entire group in pursuit and then dropping them. He sliced into De Gendt’s lead on the climb and even took time out of him on the descent. He finished second, at 35 seconds.

Stage 8
A hilly stage and he was 82nd, two minutes down. But only after some team work. Rabo’s Bauke Mollema punctured and the Leopards drilled the pace to ensure the Dutchman dropped down the overall classification. Cruel perhaps but Andy Schleck was part of the team effort and sat up later.

Stage 9
A final time trial. Damiano Cunego started the day in yellow but Levi Leipheimer overhauled him for the overall win. The stage was won by Fabian Cancellara. Meanwhile Andy Schleck was 2.32 down.

Overall + More
Andy Schleck finished the race in 19th place, some 18 minutes down on the overall. He gave up some time on several stages but others fared worse and his mountain efforts on Stage 7 helped him into the top-20. He also took the mountains jersey.

History Repeating?
People were surprised and frustrated by Andy Schleck’s erratic riding. Tactical mistakes one day, weak climbing the next, Schleck was copping some flak in the media a year ago but seemed relaxed about all of this. His performance on Stage 7 silenced some but still left an impression of erratic riding. But a month later he would finish second in the Tour de France after consistent performances in the mountains, including a bold long range attack. Could the same happen in four weeks’ time?

History repeats itself, the first as tragedy, then as farce
Karl Marx, Der 18te Brumaire des Louis Napoleon 1852

It’s not often you cite Marx on cycling but certainly there’s an element of farce over Andy Schleck’s state of form. L’Equipe called it a “soap opera” and if the media – I plead guilty – are focussing on Schleck, his form today will be forgotten if things work out in July.

One big difference is the team and the open war of words between the Schleck brothers and Johan Bruyneel. At times it sounds like mutiny but short of being a fly capable of infiltrating the team bus it’s hard to really know what the relationship is between rider and manager.

If many are worried by Andy Schleck’s now we will know more on Saturday. He has identified Stage 6 and the Col de Joux Plane as his test. Having lost time in the race so far he has more room to infiltrate a breakaway on the day and to use the tough early ramps to launch a winning attack. Still, you don’t need a tailor-made stage for clues and data, yesterday Bruyneel told Sportwereld:

I saw something special today from Andy, something that gives me hope. On a second category col, the Montivernoux, he started at the back and drove ahead as everybody went over the climb.”

But what about his powermeter? The device on his bike measures his efforts and his team should have an exact idea on his level. Assuming Andy shares the file with Bruyneel.

The closest he's been to a podium all year

Perhaps Schleck’s form is bad but I wanted to show how he was having a tough time one year ago, yet managed to come good for the Tour de France.

I understand the focus on his mediocre performances, partly in view of the Tour but also because some are wondering what is going on inside the team. He’s too big a name to be left alone although we should not forget he’s been a pro since 2005 and only won a few races, he’s never been operational all year long. Nobody is criticising Alexandr Vinkourov or Dennis Menchov for lacklustre rides in the Dauphiné.

Some fans on twitter and the comments here seem exasperated by him but I hope he comes good as he’s an exciting climber in the mountains, one of the few capable of big accelerations that can disturb Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins.

58 thoughts on “Is Andy Schleck Off The Pace Or Right On Track?”

  1. I think we’ve all seen riders who can suddenly ‘find’ an extra 5-10% power in a very short period of time, despite what sports scientists tell us is humanly possible. Unfortunately, history tends to show that these riders didn’t find their jump in performance legally…

      • Along similar lines, I’ve watched and experienced myself that extra 5% coming simply from the mental form, more than the physical form, finally coming in. If all Andy really cares about is the Tour, then he won’t ever be going as hard in other races as he will in July.

      • I think he’s had so much blood taken out of him in his ‘3 days in a clinical for knee trouble’; it’s a great credit that he can (almost) live with the race pace!

        • a few years ago at the D Lib Floyd Landis has an off day after he has some blood removed but he was fine the next day after, found the extra % +- and went on to win the Tour a few weeks later.

  2. Good write INRNG, I’ve long been a champion of Cadel as well and vividly remember people derisively calling him Cuddles and stating that his umpteenth second place in the Dauphine was further proof that he’d never win and was a wheel sucker with a decent TT.
    I don’t know what goes on in his head or how he trains but he’s been among the very best three years in a row in July. Slagging him off seems to be the bandwagon to jump on this year, but I reckon there are at most five legitimate riders capable of winning the Tour in any given year; he’s one of them and one’s suspended.

    • Have to say that I dont regard the nickname Cuddles as derisive, any more than Wiggo or Nibbles. Personally I think there’s a lot of respect for Cadel as together with Carlos Sastre he’s regarded as a seemingly rare example in recent years of a clean TdF winner

      • It was derisive in origin. Nobody calls him that anymore now that he’s a World Champ and TdF winner (positive nicknames don’t die when you prove yourself a champ), and it came from his seemingly prickly interactions with the Press. “Don’t step on my dog!”
        If you went back and read cycilng forums pre-Mendoso Worlds it would be hard to argue that there was a lot of respect for Cadel.
        You also mention Sastre, but little known historical fact here, him, Pererio and Schleck are the only Tour winners to have never won another stage race in their careers. Why are the two judged so differently?

        • Schleck and Pereiro are judged differently because Pereiro’s Tour victory, while hard earned, was enormously based on luck and he never performed on that level in any other race. Schleck’s Tour win demonstrably wasn’t based on luck because he’s also come second repeatedly, and he has also demonstrated serious talent in winning Liege Bastogne Liege.

          Pereiro was an overperformer, Schleck thus far is an underperformer.

  3. Nice piece and your point is taken! 🙂 There’s a few differences to last year though, that contribute to the extra attention to his results and performance. Last year, like every year before, he had already clocked up some results in the month of April. This year, that’s not been the case. Furthermore, and to me personally this is of interest, it was one of Bruyneel’s aims to lift Andy’s general level a notch higher. Andy was to be competative in races like Ruta del Sol, Paris-Nice and in May/June too and for this he’s been having a different trainingsprogram in the winter. Partly due to injuries/illness, lack of good preparation, he was absent up front in the Spring, but now his level also doesn’t seem to have lifted in June, it is fair to ask questions. Curious to see what happens later this week.

  4. With this year’s Tour course, I predict Andy won’t make the podium and maybe not even the top 10. There’s just too much time trialing.

    It’s interesting to see his progression in perspective, thanks to Mr. Ring. If we assume his strategy is to compete for a specific stage, then he wants to be out of contention on GC, so the teams in the hunt for yellow won’t chase him, when he tries to get in the early break.

    • I do think that Wiggens is going into this Tour as the favorite, but no Tour is a cakewalk and I think it will be closer than most people think. Looking at Wiggens, I wouldn’t have expected Cobo to keep himself in contention through the Vuelta time trials, but he did and then dropped him in the climbs. In the 2010 Tour’s final TT, he ‘only’ put three minutes into Schleck, but hadn’t ridden on the limit through the previous mountains and Andy did beat most of the other GC riders except Menchov and Contador.

      The fight between Contador and Schleck was so close and so fiercely fought I think many fail to appreciate just how far ahead of the other GC riders they were. He put almost 7 minutes into Van Den Broeck and almost 10 into Gesink. I’m listening to Horner when he says, if Andy can climb like he did in 2010 then he can still win in 2012.

      • Wiggins is one of a select few favs, but additional riders are always dark horses for a podium finish. Don’t discount Cadel Evans, who’s occasionally skipped over in discussions (don’t understand why), though he’s the reigning champ. His form is right on and he TTs with the best of ’em!

        A Schleck. With all the ink given Andy this season, it’s going to come down to two things: 1) Will his form be peaking for the mountain stages, enough to attack early and often and ride away from his rivals? 2) If he does attack early and often, can he take away enough time (several minutes or more) to buffer him for the two long TTs? His TT skills aren’t going to change from where they’ve been for the past couple of years; his anatomy is such that he cannot achieve low, super aerodynamic position on any TT bike — it’s nothing to do with Andy not learning how to be a better TT, but his skeletal structure won’t allow ideal position to eliminate drag. Not his fault.

        Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro with exceptional form and says he still feels just as strong for the TdF, ready for the high mountain stages with the best form of his career. Unlike Schleck and Contador, he doesn’t launch explosive attacks, but more like Cadel, he’s consistent and strong on endurance.

        Vincenzo Nibali has had the TdF his top priority all season long, quietly building his form. *We do have the new issue of him leaving Liquigas and wondering if the sponsor will want more support thrown behind Peter Sagan (due to loyalty) who can win almost anywhere but the high mountains?
        Liquigas is not happy with Vincenzo leaving, so will be interesting to see if they go for the maillot jaune or potentially several stage wins with Sagan. And Sagan is in the best sprinting form of his career, which puts him in ideal position for head-to-head sprints with Cav, whose train may be less than ideal due to SKY supporting Wiggins.

        I like what Adam said, “I’m listening to Horner when he says, if Andy can climb like he did in 2010 then he can still win in 2012.” Anything is possible:)

        • Andy’s physiology aside, he doesn’t invest enough time in addressing his weaknesses. In last year’s tour he hadn’t ridden the final TT stage beforehand, whereas Evans & others had ridden it several times beforehand. This isn’t the only time he’s made such a questionable decision to not ride a TT course beforehand and then lose significant time to rivals who wre better TTers & who had ridden the course beforehand.

          • @DavidL: Good points. Andy and TTs are like two magnets repelling each other. He has shown over and over that he isn’t willing to put the time into at least riding the routes beforehand as you say. I stand by my anatomical shortcomings, but aside from that he is unwilling to at least pre-ride and study each TT. This is a huge mistake for him, obviously.

            Today’s ITT was a complete disaster, somewhat like the sinking Titanic, a slow catastrophe that can only have a devastating end to it. Another huge error made by Andy today: he chose disc wheels on a windy day, which was the reason the wind gust took his rear wheel right out from under him, followed by a puncture. Can things get any worse?

            Bruyneel had actually phoned the start line to warn of the disc wheel problem with windy conditions, but Andy stayed with his choice. He should have known better, but said that in the morning the winds were calm…well, yes, the winds are often calm in the morning hours and then pick up in the afternoon (as predicted), so he should have listened to Bruyneel.

            Per CN, Kim Andersen said that the Swiss clinic found nothing wrong with Andy’s knee in May, but that caused him one week of no training. Why?

            Bruyneel says (CN) that he will keep in close contact with Andersen during the TdF (though Andersen will be at Pologne and TdS directing other squads). Andersen said that JB did not communicate that to him, so the drama gets worse.

            RNT: POOR COMMUNICATION > NO COMMUNICATION > POOR MANAGEMENT (?) > POOR PREP ON ANDY’S PART = FAILURE. Can’t imagine what to expect in the Tour, other than Andy has over 100 kms of TTs that will ruin his Tour chances, it’s crystal clear.

            Mentally and psychologically, Andy does not possess the toughness needed by a champion, but in his defense, JB has contributed enormously to making his life a living hell. The stress has taken over. The way this has played out in the media/public is such a shame for Andy.

  5. I am more concerned about his performances this spring than this week.

    Andy can’t seem to hold form long. There’s nothing wrong with that to me. He’s been like that for years. But in previous years, he would peak for the Ardennes and peak for the Tour. His non-existent performances in the Ardennes give me concern that he is just having a crap season.

  6. he’s a week behind schedule because of the knee thing, story was on cyclingnews today.

    i feel sorry for him though, he won a young riders competition in grand tours 4 years in a row, 2nd in le tour, 3 years in a row, 2nd in the giro (behind doper di luca), won a monument classic… been top 10 in strade bianchi, amstel, lombaardia, fleche wallonne, he was 5th in the last olympic road race too don’t forget, then with rebelin out, 4th, kolobnev a proven doper, he should of had a bronze medal =/

    how can people still continually doubt such talent in a 26 year old…? (well 27 on sunday)

    I didn’t rate him with the favourites for this years tour because of the TT kilometres but with him looking so relaxed and care free on the bike, he must be getting some good numbers because his poker face has always been poor. will be interesting seeing if he can take 4-5 minutes on the likes of cadel and wiggo in july

  7. Nice Job INRING, as always your insight and prose are of the highest caliber. I’m here every day.
    I may not be an experienced pro racer but I do ride and I do race and my amateur opinion is simple. Andy is in training for HIS season best. He wants to peak when he’s ready. He’s not listening to the press or to anyone else except his body and his coach or training plan. When I ride with a training goal in mind its very tempting to go with the friends, the flow, the sprint, over exert and not stick to my plan. Only discipline trumps impulse. I personally think Andy couldn’t care less about anything except improving his form, staying healthy and safe until the Pyrenees and Alps appear in the Tour.
    The one key that can change perfect form and planning is hidden in your sentence: “Assuming Andy shares the file with Bruyneel.” If he is not even working with management and team mates, then no one will sacrifice for him. He must have his team to win regardless of his goal of a perfect form.
    I see a pattern of a disciplined athlete. I hope he didn’t overlook the team portion of the race.
    We will see all on the Champs-Elysee…

  8. Of more concern/interest should be how Andy places in tomorrow’s TT. He needs to improve in the discipline drastically if he is to podium in the Tour. A dress rehearsal of the TT in the Tour is a once off. He cannot afford to take it easy in this stage if he harbours hopes of putting in a decent TTin July.

    For him to win the Tour, we have to assume he is going to climb well. What should be interesting is how he can manage the time trials, which is more of an ‘unknown unknown’.

    • I agree completely. It will be important to see his form. Will he still be awkward in the turns? Can he get aero? If Bruyneel’s been teaching him anything, this is where it will show.

      • Form is right I think (assuming you mean “shape on the bike” rather than “physical condition”), but surely he *can* afford to take it a bit easy? If he’s targeting a later stage rather than the overall I can understand him not burying himself in a 50k flattish time trial. Why leave everything on the road in order to finish 50th rather than 80th when your big target is still to come?

          • I’m not talking about not trying. I’m talking about targeting your efforts at stages you can actually win. Neither of us would expect him to be in every break on a transitional stage or to be hopping from train to train in a sprint finish, though it would be entertaining for us. There are degrees of “always giving your maximum” and at one end of the scale that’s just riding like an idiot (or alternatively like Eddy Merckx). Admittedly Andy looks like he may be pushing at the other end of the scale sometimes this year.

          • Can we assume you also think so lowly of Sep Vanmarcke as un-professional as he came dead last at 15mins down on today’s TT. Clearly he only cares about a handful of races around his hometown each year.
            The reality of pro cycling is that in any give race there’s a percentage of riders just making up the numbers or there for training.

  9. This feels like a power play within Radioshack, like he is just sticking 2 fingers up at Johan Bruyneel. He is riding effortlessly (whilst not making an effort to be competitive). It’s a bit disrespectful to the ASO as he is saying loudly that he doesn’t care about the race.

    I’d still put him down for some stage wins in the Tour, but his TT position is just too poor for him to stand any chance in the GC.

  10. In 2010 he followed a similar pattern, with a lacklustre performance in california and suisse, and i gave up on him. he then went on to ride his best tour ever. my concern is his relationship with the team. i hope he isnt sitting up because he is trying to stick it to johan or anything like that

  11. “Bold long range attack” Yes it was bold, but ultimately fruitless – he lost the better part of a minute of his advantage in the last km of the Galibier, so I’d argue that Evans controlled the attack pretty effectively despite appearances. Schleck wasted a huge amount of energy into the well-known headwind of the Lautaret trying to maintain a gap largely on his own. It’s worth having a close look at the Galibier timechecks as, for me, it reveals that Evans was reeling in Schleck all the way, managing his effort far more effectively.

    And the impact of that attack was seen the next day when the Schleck brothers were seen begging Evans to ride on Alpe d’Huez much to his amusement. Covering Contador’s move on the Telegraphe smacked of desperation rather than bold attacking, especially when the group came together and Evans had wasted less energy by waiting for support.

    “Come good”? Debatable as he didn’t improve on his final position at the Tour from previous years. Does Andy know how to take the lead in a race like the Tour and control it? No, because he has never given himself the opportunity to learn that part of Grand Tour racecraft in events like the Dauphine or Tour de Suisse. I see that as a significant problem for him: in 2010 for example, I felt he totally misread the race on the Tourmalet by isolating himself and riding hard tempo off the front to force Contador onto the defensive when he needed to make use of lower-placed riders attacks from a front group to unsettle him.

    For all the talk of him being an exciting and explosive climber, the last time he demonstrated that he could use it effectively in a race to win was Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2009. That looks a lot less like misfortune than it does inadequate preparation.

    • That scene on the Alpe d’Huez was my favourite from last years tour.
      Camera shows Andy talking to Cadel.
      Cadel shakes head.
      Andy talks again.
      Cadel shakes head again.
      Pure Gold.

      • It was especially amusing if you think back to stage 7 in 2009 when the Schlecks amused themselves winding Evans up to the extent he went on a pointless attack on the road to Andorra.

  12. I wish the Schleck’s would just SHUT UP AND RACE. Same with their DS, though of course HE has a reputation to protect – if he flops with this team his big reputation (and power/salary) are pretty much gone. So far the soap-opera dramatics are pretty much the only interesting thing going on with this team, so they have nobody to blame…they can’t pin this on “trolls”, etc. But I wouldn’t count them out just yet…that’s why they have the RACE after all.

  13. Not so much having a tough time more that he appears to simply not care for much outside of July. I’m sure he will perform well at the Tour but this attitude, especially in one so talented, is understandably disappointing for many. It even makes you wonder whether he will turn around at the end of his career and regret what might have been.

    Whether inaccurate or not, Andy (and indeed Frank) can come across poorly in the media (somewhere between spoilt child and aloof is my personal reading) which only exacerbates the problem.

  14. You know I’m not eve actually convinced there’s a problem in the team, Bruyneel is a past master of mind games, it would suit him for everyone to believe that te team is disfunctional and that all his plans are unravelling for the tour.
    A planned escape by an explosive climber that pus time into Wiggins and Evans might be enough for Schleck’s GC hopes after all Radioshack aren’t going to have to do any work as they’re not starting as favourites!
    I’m hoping this is going to be the case I on’t think I can sit through a three week race that will be decided by dull metronomic riding, at least in the Giro Hesjedal actually made proper racing moves, can’t see either Wiggins or Evans doing that.
    I’m rather hoping I won’t be desperate for the start of the Vuelta after ten days of the tour but wouldn’t be surprised if I am.

    • I agree Raouligan.

      My first thought on the subject was :
      “How poor does Schleck’s form have to be for him to be written off (and therefore given a little less attention) ?”
      My second thought was :
      “Bruyneel’s tactics with LA were always to gain time in the first mountain finish.” For Andy to win in 2012 this is even more crucial (due to his TT frailties). So, I’m just throwing out the idea of his entire season to date being a bluff, so as to be given a little attacking licence on that first TdF mountain stage. Crazy and desperate, I know, but just an idea

      • It occurred to me last night that all of this was smoke and bluff from Bruyneel.
        It wouldn’t be the first time he’s used the media to out-smart the other teams.

  15. A lot of what is being said now about Andy Schleck and the Tour de France is also being said about Kenenisa Bekele with regard to the 5000, 10,000 metres at the Olympics. There is lots of talk about poor form, potential injury, fallings out (Schleck with Management, Bekele with his federation) but the one thing I’m certain about is that when it comes down to the main event – the TDF or the Olympics – both Schleck and Bekele will arrive with the form they need.

    People are looking at recent 3000, 5000 metres and judging Bekele – people are looking at the Dauphine and judging Schleck but what really matters is the form they bring to their main races. The Dauphine in June is not the tour in July just like a 3000m track race now is not the 10,000m at the olympics. Holding form from now until July or the Olympics is a big ask.

    I do think Andy Schleck has the potential to wreak havoc at the tour – hopefully we get an exciting race.

  16. Listen guys, we´re talking about modern cycling – not about the hopefully past period with preparation in the dark of the Men in Black (named by UCI). Opinions on riders form from (us) armchair coaches are fine, however; figures, watts and numbers in general never lies. And probably only Andy, JB and his trusted Kim A has this inside information available. And as long as Kim A is around be sure that Andy performs on top in July and in the end that’s why the Schlecks he brought him along when leaving Team Saxo-Bank and probably made sure that he stayed in the team when JB arrived. He´s worth all his money as coach and trainer, even though he has a life time ban as a rider from three doping offenses, which also seems to be one of the major problems in cycling that those who knows how to fine tune a form, much to often has a past.

  17. Andy Schleck should win some bike races. It is really good to set the target of winning the TdF, especially if you’ve got the talent he’s got, but that can’t be it. LBL 2009 was great, because it seemed like a harbinger of good results to come. Unfortunately, those haven’t come. A great big talent seems to be getting wasted on an underwhelming palmares. Perhaps Andy is above all that. Perhaps the TdF is all that matters to him. But, as a fan, that’s a disappointing thing to watch.

    • Robot, even if you think he should have won more lets put it in perspective.
      When Cadel was his age his only major wins were Commonwealth Games TT and a stage at the TDU. Wiggins on the road had a Tour de l’Avenir stage, a Dauphine prolgue and that’s about it. Contador won more, but he’s one of the all time greats. Gesink has had some big wins in his young career but nothing in July in France. Nibali has won the Vuelta and podiumed in the Giro, but no better than 7th in France with no stage wins and no monument victories.
      Schlecks 09 LBL win was dominant. In 2010 he won the group finish, and in 2011 he ran into a Gilbert having one of the best springs of any rider ever but he gave him a run for his money in Amstel and podiumed a week later.
      David Millar’s on Twitter today saying Andy’s going to make teh tour worth watching next month.

      • Adam, I think you make a valid point, in that we have perhaps inflated expectations of Andy, relative to some of the riders you mention, but I don’t think the comparisons are so clean. Wiggins hadn’t won as much on the road at the same age, but the guy had a HUGE track career leading into his road life. He is massively accomplished, and already was at 27. Gesink has never been touted as the same talent. Andy was promoted to team leader quite early, in acknowledgement of his talent. Gesink has developed later, and never with the same expectation. The Cadel comparison is more apt, but I would venture that most people felt disappointed in Cadel’s performances at the same stage in his career, and that he has only really come good in the last three years. The truth is that the expectations on Andy (and to a lesser degree Franck) are high, but that is all in proportion to his seeming talent. He has willingly taken on these expectations. We just haven’t seen him live up to them yet. My belief is that he would do himself a big favor by winning some smaller races, e.g. Pais Vasco or Tour de Suisse, both in terms of confidence and in justifying his position in the sport.

  18. he raced less than 20 days this year, he doesn’t have the pace?
    surely he’s an one-show man and that’s not fine.
    he is a (the) favourite for the next tour, but he’s not a champion at all, and he is having his worse season so far.

  19. I’m not sure the 8 day effort required to win the Dauphine or Swiss Tour is beneficial for a someone who contests the Tour GC. Sky and BMC may have cause for concern considering that Wiggo is claiming the form of his life and Cadel is saying he is in better form than this time last year (especially considering his illness earlier in the season) and the big tests of the Tour are still 5 weeks away. I think other riders of his caliber feel the need to go talk to the media and tell them that they aren’t contesting the GC and explain what their role is (ie helping X and Y riders win stages/sprints/points jersey/etc) while Andy just does his thing and doesn’t care what the media says/guesses. Given how many times he has been runner up in Grand Tours, I don’t think his legacy will be decided by one week stage races.

  20. I cant accept that Andy’s anatomy stops him from improving in his TT. Look at how much Ryder Hesjedal has improved in TT last 2 yrs (see all the Giro 2012 articles on him) yet Ryder is TALLER than Andy.

    • @QOM: Anatomy and physics are the two largest factors that prevent much improvement for Andy, but, his lack of preparation (riding and studying TT routes) does hurt him more, no question.

      Yes, Ryder is taller than Andy (so is Wiggins and others) but it’s nothing to do with Andy’s height; it’s his anatomical proportions: his torso in relation to his legs is very long and his upper arms are extremely long; this combination makes his torso ride high on the TT bike, creating a big air pocket, also known as drag. Andy can get low and aerodynamic, but he can’t hold the position because he has to drop his chest so far and lift his head to see where he’s going. This causes him to have to use more core strength (energy/calories) to sustain the low aero position than a rider with a shorter torso and shorter upper arms. Over 40 – 50+ kms, Andy’s expending more energy than other riders just trying to maintain good position. It’s unnatural for his body proportions and too taxing (downright painful) to maintain.

      Think about it: mass stretched out over a long area versus more compact mass between pelvis on saddle and elbow contact on tri bars.

      Wiggins is 190cm and Andy is 186cm. Wiggo has better anatomical body proportions for TTing than many, esp Andy. “Normal” torso and arm lengths relative to the rest of his body. Wiggo has a more compact cockpit than Andy due to his shorter torso; he’s able to get super-aero, stay low and maintain it. Wiggo is also super aggressive in TTs because he has great position and he has the fine details of cornering, etc. down to the tee. This man has no fear on a TT bike and it shows.

      Because Andy’s awkwardness/fit on the TT bike is so poor, it leaves him lacking confidence and instills fear. Like his fear of descents, he also fears cornering on a TT bike and his form through turns is horrendous. This could be improved if he put the time into it, and shave time off his TTs, but he hasn’t shown the commitment to this specialty, only hurting his already-diminished ability even more.

  21. LOTS of good thinking and views here. Cannot wait for the TDF.

    But it seems to me that for some our fan pre-judgment colours a lot of our views. Many of our (Septic?) friends whine constantly that Cadel is a wheelsucker, others that the Schlecks are gutless girls etc. etc. but when the occasion has called for it, many of these shibboleths are simply proved wrong.

    Here’s to Andy, Cadel and Bradley separated by under ten seconds well into the third week of the Tour!

  22. As much as I would love to see Bradley win this years Tour and as much as I respect Cadel, niether are the most exciting to watch. So step up panto villain Andy! should shake things up a bit.

  23. I think a lot of the commentary here is from the point of view of whether Andy’s behaviour is the best thing thing to enable him to win the Tour or not. And certainly you can argue that his long range attack last July on the Lautaret wasn’t wise from that point of view – Evans was just too strong. But as a fan, that stage was the the most exciting on the TdF that I’ve seen (Chris Boardman agreed at the time) and it wouldn’t have happened without Andy Schleck to precipitate it. So, when we talk about Andy Schleck being boring, let’s remember that.

  24. I don’t know. A lot of talk slagging Andy Schleck, but the dude has placed 2nd in the TdF three times, one of which was declared a win.He’s certainly earned the right to prepare on his schedule. He’s not some Cat 3 who hasn’t figured out how to ride his bike.

    Also, Wiggins has peaked too early. Mark my words. When’s the last time someone crushed the Dauphine and won the TdF?

    • I think ‘ He’s not some Cat 3 who hasn’t figured out how to ride his bike.’ applies equally to Wiggins. Maybe Wiggins has peaked to soon, but maybe the sports scientists at sky know what they’re doing. Hard to really assess from outside: only he and they know what the ‘numbers’ are. We do know that Wiggins has come good previously at the Dauphine when aiming for the tour. We don’t know how he would have gone if he hadn’t crashed.

      The Dauphine is also a pretty good predictor of form – sure the only recent winners of both have been Indurain and Armstrong, but look at the podiums for the last three and you’ll find the tour winner for that year: 2009: Contador was third, 2010: Contador was second, 2011: Cadel was second.

    • Certainly I don’t doubt his ability or the likelyhood that he will perform at the Tour. Given his obvious talent it’s just his attitude to the rest of the season that disappoints many. Of course he also doesn’t benefit from the whole winning becoming a habit thing either as a result.

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