Thanks, to you too


Andy Schleck

Andy Schleck:happy new year!!!

Waiting for the new year coming...

... I have two long articles about Andy and Frank; the first one is an interview by Bici Sport [thanks Samantha] in Italian, the second one is by Le Quotidien [thanks Linda] in French. I must translate and/or copy&paste them and it will take a while... I'll do it, I promise. But today it's the last day of the year and I must check my New Year Resolutions for 2009:
1) To set up the pc on my bike: done. But using it is not so easy...
2) To stop studing and start working: done. Unemployment is a big problem in Italy so I was lucky this year working... 16 days!! But I'm sorry, I'll must do another master in 2010, in order to get points and to not be let behind in the job list for theaching. Italian system sucks, don't ask me more.
3) To go cycling every weekends (at least) and to improve my performances: ehm... not exactly!
4) To support my son who's going to start cycling: done!
5) To manage to organize a Schleck Party with the other fangirls: not yet, but I met lots of you and we became good friends.
6) To go to see the Tour de France... in France: done!
7) To find my true love: it's a long, complicated story... I can't write 'done', even if...
8) To buy a new helmet: done.
9) To bring my son to Venice: done (for the Giro).
10) To buy new cycling winter clothes: done.
7/10 is a good score, isn't it?
So here you are my New Year Resolutions for 2010:
1) Working and geting some money in order to move to Luxembourg. That isn't a realistic aim for 2010, but...
2) looking for a job there...
3) looking for a place to stay, in holydays at least, that's possible.
4) cycling every weekends (at least) and improving my performances: try again, you'll be more determinated!
5) organizing a Schleck Party: do you remember my project for a Woodstock in Mondorf with DJ Tiesto and all fangirls backpaking, dancing, drinking and Schleck celebrating? Why not? Steve Schleck is the vice-major so the local administration would have nothing against it. So cool in fact! Ok, I'll work on it!
6) buying cycling shoes (I use normal trainers at the moment but you know, it isn't profesional!).
7) improving my French
8) finishing my on line course of Luxembourgish
9) having my thesis published
10) stoping looking for love and enjoy life: hey, open your ears, I don't need you! I'd simply like to share my joy with you :)



22.12: OMG! What a day!
Let me go straight to the point: my friends organized a surprise date with Andy. But he didn't come - he sent an sms: he was sorry, was hunting and after that it was too late... SO I went to his home, rang at the door and... mum Gaby opened. I said: "J'ai un cadeau pour Andy... Schleck" - and of course, which other Andy could I hope to find at the Schelck house?! She was very kind, and was sorry but he wasn't there. We talked for a while and she kept saying "Mais il est domage qu'il n'est pas là!", took my gift and card and assured that would say him to write me back. OK. Then I realized that I had stoped breathing.
Now, if you are still interested in, I'll tell you the whole story.
I spent the morning in the City looking for a gift and a Christmas card. Eventually I bought one of this typical cake in form of heart that were sold in the Christmas Market with "Schein Feierdeeg!" written on. I also put a little magnetic Pink Jersey brought from home in the card envelope and all that in my sac: it was raining and I had to come back to my hotel in order to change my clothes and to take my pool stuff.
Around 12 am my friend Georges Noesen with family picked me up and driving in a complete chaos we finally had lunch in a delicious restaurant. Georges is one of my favourite cycling photographer - you often find his pics on my blog - so I was very glad to get his book about Tour of Luxembourg 2009 as a gift. If you don't know him yet, have a look here: http://www.georgesnoesen.eu/ Christmas time is a busy time and the Noesen family had to go shoping at the Auchan. I went with them and Linda pick me up in front of it, where I was waiting in the snow together with lots of people carrying shopers and packs. Actually I was carrying only some hopes and pool stuff.
You could think that was a unlucky day for me, but it wasn't. We went to the famous thermal bath of Mondorf and it was wonderful, amusing and exciting. Ok, thermal baths are supposed to be relaxing, and they are, but we where in Mondorf and I couldn't avoid to be thrilled. The pool inside was under maintenance so we had a bath in the one outdoor: so cool!! The air was very cold but the water was very hot so the steam was all around. There were few people inside but we had lots of fun. Linda's little daughter and I were very noisy and talkative, her mother still and quiet instead. At 5 pm we went to eat something in the bistrot and met Linda's father. I am glad to have met the whole Lida's family, because they are simply special.
I was completely unaware of the date so was impatient and wondered: Why are we waiting here? Finally we went out and Linda said me: "Andy was supposed to be there but..." OK! Go to his place then!!
By the way - literally - I had a look to his new apartament: it's quite big but it will take time before somebody can move in there. At the moment Andy still lives at his parents house and we drove to there, in the dark, through the snow, under a cold rain. The light was on, I rang at the door and Gaby opened. You already know the end.
Let me add that I wasn't sad or disappointed coming back to Linda's car: that was my first plan, I knew nothing about a date so I decided to go to Andy's place, to ring the bell and to give my gift. I couldn't be sure to find him. And I was simply happy to have met his mum, talked with her and glimpsed into their house.
I was up set, that's sure. And coming back I took the wrong way and put a foot in the snow of the garden. Gaby was at the door looking at me as a worryed mum and told me: "Attention!" and something else about the wet stairs, and kept looking at me till I reached the car. Maybe she was also surprised, because of course she's used to open the door to her sons fans, but looked almost astonished to know that I came from Italy and was going to leave in a day.
Belive me, it was a strange situation: it was late in the evening, all dark and rainy, and I was wearing a skirt and heel shoes. "Mais comment avez vous fait à venir jusque ici?" asked she "Ah! il y a la voiture!" When she took my 'cadeau' the little Pink Jersey fell out of the envelope. It was a pity. I felt she was feeling my feeling and beeing sorry for me. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I felt she felt. And usualy I'm right about that kind of things. But I wasn't sorry, I felt nothing. All my soul was in controling my acts. If not... ehm! Linda turned on the lights of her car, I set down and stoped controling myself. I was still anyway, simply dreaming, as coming from a different reality.
Would you like to know what I wrote in the card? Me too. I did it in the car just before to ring and completely forgot. I try but I can't remember one word. It was nothing special I think, simply hope to have written correctly my conctact info. Andy already had it but I am still waiting for a mail or sms! "Ah! mon fils" Gaby commented shaking his head.
I took no pictures, I'm sorry. You must belive me on words. Ask Gaby if you want.
Be sure that asked by the taxi driver I'd have anwered "To Mondorf, immediately!" the day after, instead of, wisely, "To the airport, please." And I was almost crying while we left the City still covered in snow, listening to his absurde caraibian music...
[Pic 1 is from Frank's twitter]


My Tour of Luxembourg [City]

I simply love this country!
On the 21th morning I walked to the City, in the snow, and only stoped for luch
[Frank's bistrot: try it!]. It was still very cold so I had to warm me up now and then... you understand me, don't you? So I ended to buy some souvenirs: a nice t-shirt in a nice mall, a big flag in a small shop [with the roude léiw, impossible to find it out of Luxembourg]... By the way, if you are shoping in Luxembourg City have a look to Extrabold, 24, av. de la Liberté http://www2.extrabold.eu/ : one of the coolest place I have ever seen. But first of all I bought Le quotidien, with his 2 pages about the Cyclo-cross and a big picture of the winner. I'm miss that newspaper since my return in Italy!
I visited the City up and down all day. The Christmas market was nice but honestly not special (I'll come again to that in my next post), but the walls and streets and bridges and gates and roofs full of snow were simply wonderful. It was a dream by the Alzette, a white and soft dream, and was dreaming to walk there not alone for a change... It was a perfect dream, only one was missed. But I felt as if I found myself in that little church by the river: silence, light and love. I hoped I can keep that feeling forever.
Late in the afternoon I had a good chocolate with my friend Ed and his wife in a café just in the central Place d'Arme. I can't stop to thank them because they were very very kind with me and made me feel at home more then here in my country.
At 5.30 pm I came back to my hotel, took a shower and ate something in my room watching mtv: that's enjoying life!!
It wasn't easy to sleep thinking: OMG, tomorrow I'm going to MONDORF! but I did eventually and had sweet dreams.

Andy's diary of December

A battered and bruised family Christmas
The saying goes that people tend to look like their pets. It’s a stupid saying isn’t it? I mean, Michael Jackson never looked like Bubbles and Siegfried and Roy look nothing like tigers. Saying that, Paris Hilton does a pretty good impression of a Chihuahua…

And right now there’s a glaring similarity between me and my dog Minke, as we’ve both been in the wars and are feeling sorry for ourselves. As you may have read on Cyclingnews, I was involved in a collision with a car whilst out training at the weekend. I was on my way to meet my brother Frank for a ride when a car came from nowhere and pulled right in front of me. I had no time to react and couldn’t avoid the crash. Luckily I got up and realised that nothing was broken. In fact, somehow the car had come off worse with two smashed windows, a damaged door and dented bumper.

So no harm done but it’s been around 24 hours and I’m feeling really stiff now. As for Minke, it’s a totally different story but he’s looking just as bashed up. Why, I hear you ask. Well, I was out walking with my Dad yesterday - Minke was there of course - and as all good hunting dogs do, he was on the prowl in the woods. Quick as you like he was dashing down a fox hole in search of some fun.

We could hear the scrap from outside and after calling him out he eventually strutted out, grinning from ear to ear. However he’d sustained a few war wounds and now his face is swollen up. It’s so bad he’s only been able to eat soup. So here we are, sitting inside on a perfect winter’s day, staring at each other’s reflection in the television and feeling sorry for each other.

Let’s not dwell on the downside though this has been a great Christmas at the Schleck household. This year my brother Steve came over with his other half and Frank brought his fiancée too. We had a great time, eating a fantastic lunch and chatting for hours. One thing I really like sharing is how much of a life I have away from the bike. Of course cycling is important to me but there’s more to life than just riding my bike. Christmas reminds you of that, I think.

Last week I spoke to Jonathon Bellis and his dad on the phone. As you know Jonathon was involved in a horrific accident a few months ago and is back in the United Kingdom trying to recuperate. It was great to hear his voice and we’ve already decided to send him a jersey for the 2010 season. I don’t know when he’ll be coming back but we wanted him to know that he’s part of our team and that he can use the jersey as something to motivate him.

My motivation – crash aside – is high right now. We recently had our Saxo Bank survivor camp. It was great to see all the guys on the team, both old and new and we had a lot of fun. As you know Bjarne Riis’ survivor camps are etched psyche of the sport – just think of the term training camp and you’ll immediately think of our escapades.

This year we started off with a night-time mountain bike ride before making our way up a mountain for a camp fire. We had to huddle around a fire while we each wrote down one thing on a piece of paper before casting it into the flames. Whatever we wrote down, whatever trouble or problem, it would burn away into the night and not return. You’re probably thinking that I wrote Alberto Contador’s name down. We’ll you’re right, but it was only a joke and I showed the entire team, who found it hilarious. What I really wrote down has to stay a secret.

Camps and Christmas aside, this month I’ve been keeping up with the latest news and I was really surprised that Bradley Wiggins moved from Garmin to Sky. To be honest, I didn’t like the move or the way it was conducted. Okay, he was under contract and he could have broken it but the fact is he totally denied that he was moving and then suddenly he’d moved. I don’t think that was cool and he could have done it more professionally. I didn’t like how he handled it. I hope he has a good 2010 season though. I’m sure he’ll do something big.

As for my 2010 season you’re probably aware of my schedule but I can now confirm that I’ll be doing the Tour of California. I can’t wait.

There’s not much else to say other than have a great New Year and thanks again for all your fantastic support.

Andy and the dog.


Article by Cyclingnews...

...but nothing new for fangirls, really. I didn't sleep very good that night and when I woke up immediately stressed friends with sms: they rassured me before and better then Cyclingnews! Do you think I'm mad? Probably I am. Wait for next posts and you'll be sure.

Schleck fine after car collision by:Daniel Benson

Bruised Schleck says car came off worse

Andy Schleck was involved in a collision with a car on Saturday but came away with no more than bruising. The Tour de France podium finisher was training at home in Luxembourg after spending Christmas with his family. Schleck was out on his bike and en route to meet his older brother Fränk for a training ride.

“It was cold and I had lots of clothing on to protect me,” Schleck told Cyclingnews. “That was a good thing in the end.

“A car crossed in my path and pulled right across me. I couldn’t avoid the crash,” he added. “I didn’t have the speed on but I couldn’t avoid it.”

Schleck estimated that he was travelling at roughly 35 kilometres per hour when the collision occurred. According to Schleck the car came off worse. “There was more damage on the car. His door was a wreck and so was his bumper,” he said. “The passnger window and the front window were smashed too.”

Schleck saw a physiotherapist later in the day, confirming that while nothing was broken he could return to cycling on Monday.

“I have a really good physio and she checked everything over,” added Schleck. “It’s just some bruises and tomorrow I’ll go out on my bike. It will hurt but that’s it.”

Schleck will travel to Fuerteventura in January for Saxo Bank’s first team camp of 2010. He confirmed he would ride the Tour of California as preparation for next year’s Tour de France.


Andy crashed

Get well soon!!

Cyclocross in the snow in Ettellbruck

When I woke up on the 20th, it was softly snowing. It was Sunday, all was quiet and still, and COLD too. White streets and roofs all out of my window, the Christmas lights off and nobody in sign. A deep, unreal silence. After breackfast I went back to my room and waited under my warm feder feeling like 'suspended'.
On 'Le Quotidien' there was a whole page about cyclocross, because two imp
ortant events were expected on that day: Jempy Drucker and Gusty Bausch were going to race in Kalmthout (Belgium) for the World Cup, but I'll have found other friends, like Cyrille Heymans, Vincent Dias Dos Santos, Pit Schlechter (national champion 'espoires'), in Ettellbruck for the Nordstaat Cyclo-cross. Pit won the previous Sunday race, so there was a long interview with him on the newspaper.
My friend Linda came to pick me up at 11, daring the snow, and we had lunch together in Ettellbruch with her little daughter, her sister and her family. Linda's dad is the owner of an important Luxembourgish cycling team, so... I was in really good company. And they were so kind with me in my trip that I will never thank them enough.
That cyclocross in the snow was mega cool! It was COLD, really. But meet
ing friends and enjoying the race was a wonderful way to warming up. I was surprised and pleased because many people recognized me and came to say hello. I want to thanks specially Ed Buchette, Jemp Kartheiser and of course the 'unstopable' photographer Carlo Biwer, who was there as every times. I must also say Hi! to my friend Claude Michels who couldn't come because of the snow. I am a little angry with Christian Poos instead: he was invited to have lunch with us but didn't answered. Ok, you are not forced to come but are supposed to prevent your friends (and I'm not talking about myself).
It doesn't matter: it has been a ver
y nice day. Pascal Triebel won and Pit Schlechter was second, first in his cathegory, 3 Tom Flammang 4 Vincent Dias Dos Santos. Unfortunately there was also a bad crash and poor Jèrome Junker, who was 4 at that moment, hurted his right hand. He went straight against a wood stake just in front of me... After the finsh I went greeting Pit and asked him: "So how are you? it was difficult today, and dangerous...", "No... Today... it was funny!" he answered with a beautiful smile. He's still in school and must put together studying and training, that's no easy for a young boy. In spite of all he's one of the most promising racer in Luxembourg.
Then Linda brought me back to my hotel and I went out for
a typical Luxembourgish dinner and a walk in the snowy night. I couldn't sleep that night but eventually I did and my dreams were so sweet... that I woke up too early the next day.


Missing home – but the yours!

So I have been there and it has been wonderful: friends, people and places. I'd like to be still there : it was hard to come back and I'll return as soon as possible. Sniff sniff sniff! Anyway I have a lot to tell you, so decided to dedicate 3 posts to my trip: 1 about the Cyclocross in Ettellbruch (20.12) 2 about my Tour of Luxembourg [City] (21.12) and 3 about Mondorf-les-bains (22.12). I know that you are interested in this last the most, but, you know, suspance is the secret of every tale. I can only anticipate that I achieved some good results this time, so I'm quite happy – dreaming I 'd say – even if... it could have been better...

But let me begin from the begining. Ancient peoples used to think that exceptional events often go with exceptional natural phenomena and, yes, I must admit that my trip to Luxembourg was as exceptional as last minute, because on the 4 of December I suddenly found myself unemployed but with an unespected salary payed. So I had both free time and money, desire and courage were already there and I must simply boock my fly. I couldn't know that the day of my departure would be so disasterly SNOWY!!!

It started snowing on the 18 night and when I woke up Florence was in a complete chaos. I spent the morning checking the site of the airport trying to understand if my fly would be canceled or not. At 12 I was there with suitcase and hope. The airport was temporarly closed but they assured that my fly would start in the afternoon and they were right: 1 hour of delate. We reached Zurich and were boarded on the first plane to Luxembourg, but we had to wait 1 hour more because passegers from Paris was more late then us. All Europe was nuts for snow in the day I choosed to fly around.

We landed to Luxembourg airport eventually... but my suitcase – and not only the mine – was not there: "Don't worry, it's in Zurich" a gentle man told me at the Lost Bagages Office "You'll get it at your hotel tomorrow morning."

And I did get it! But it was – 13 in Luxembourg City that night and I had only the clothes I was wearing. Moreover I had to go to Ettellbruck to watch the cyclocross the next morning, that was standing up all the day in and under the snow - lots of snow – in a fleeping freezing cold.

In spite of all that I was absolutely happy on the taxi bringing me to my hotel and I felt at home, really, when the driver said me proudly: "Là c'est la Ville!" The City, Der Stadt! All white, covered of snow it was amazing, inexpressiblely beautifull: a dream. And I was there! And, of course, I was also thinking that... ok... you know.

Merry Christmas, dudes!


Next stop Luxembourg (and article about Frank)

I'm freezing. YES, it's flipping freezing!! it's December, it's almost Christmas, I know. BUT that doesn't avoid me to desire a somewhere warmer, or the snow at least: if I must freezing I want a reason!! Holydays are coming and you are allowed to presume that I'm going to reach some tropical paradise, or St.Moritz at least. I'd prefer Ischgl - perhaps you know why - but... no. I'm leaving to Luxembourg. Ok, I think it's not a surprise :) I'll be there since the 19 till the 23 so if you are there too we can meet: let me know. As you can imagine, I'm looking forward. In my schedule there is the cross race on the 20 and a trip to Mondorf-les-Bains on the 22. On the 21 I'm free and I think I'm going to have a look to the City and perhaps to meet some friends there. Xmas market is on my list too. I hope I'll post something great soon but I can't promise to.
Have a nice Christmas and enjoy your holydays: I'll do!!

[Thanks Luc for the link, pic by C.Poos fb]

Hey, bdw... have a look here... and thanks miss Sansen:

http://www.radsport-news.com/sport/sportnews_60659.htmRSN-Rangliste 2009, Platz 26: Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank)

Trotz Knieproblemen eine erfolgreiche Saison

Von Christoph Adamietz

15.12.2009 - (rsn) – Auch wenn Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) in diesem Jahr im Schatten seines jüngeren Bruders Andy stand, zeigte er mit vier Saisonsiegen, darunter einem Tour-Etappenerfolg, sein Können. Nur die Ardennenklassiker liefen nicht nach Wunsch.

Schon früh im Jahr war der Saxo-Bank-Kapitän gut drauf, was er mit seinem ersten Saisonsieg auf der 8. Etappe der Kalifornien-Rundfahrt (Kat. 2.HC) unter Beweis stellte. Erster Saisonhöhepunkt des Luxemburgers war im März die Fernfahrt Paris-Nizza. „Ich war schon mal in den Top Five. Dieses Mal will ich auf’s Podium und ich glaube, dass ich das schaffen werde“, kündigte Schleck an - und fuhr beim prestigeträchtigen Rennen zur Sonne auf gleich drei Etappen unter die ersten Drei. In der Gesamtwertung musste er sich nur dem Spanier Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) geschlagen geben.

Danach musste Schleck in Folge eines Trainingssturzes allerdings eine Wettkampfpause einlegen. "Er wurde mit sieben Stichen am Kinn genäht und hat sich das Handgelenk schwer geprellt. Brüche wurden nach einer Röntgenuntersuchung ausgeschlossen", teilte Schlecks Rennstall nach dem Sturz mit.

Nach dem Criterium International (Platz 13) bestritt der wieder genesene Kletterspezialist die Baskenland-Rundfahrt als letztes Vorbereitungsrennen auf die Ardennenklassiker, die er allerdings nicht komplett bestreiten konnte. Beim Amstel Gold Race musste Schleck nach einem schlimmen Sturz mit einer Gehirnerschütterung aufgeben. Seinen Start beim Fleche Wallonne drei Tage später musste er absagen. Bei Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich konnte Schleck zwar wieder starten, musste sich aber mit Rang 23 begnügen. Dafür durfte er sich über den Sieg seines Bruders Andy freuen.

Nach einer fünfwöchigen Wettkampfpause kehrte Schleck bei seiner Heimatrundfahrt in das Renngeschehen zurück – und wie. Der 29-Jährige gewann die 3. Etappe der Luxemburg-Rundfahrt und sicherte sich zudem den Gesamtsieg. Beim letzten großen Formtest vor der Tour, der Tour de Suisse, zeigte Schleck durchwachsene Leistungen und musste sich mit zwei Top-Ten-Platzierungen auf den Etappen zufrieden geben. Kurz darauf fuhr der Luxemburgische Meister des Jahres 2005 bei den nationalen Titelkämpfen im Straßenrennen auf Platz drei.

In Frankreich wollte Fränk Schleck gemeinsam mit seinem Bruder Andy den Tourthron erobern. „Wir sind hier, um die Tour zu gewinnen”, kündigte er am Vorabend des Auftaktzeitfahrens gegenüber cyclingnews.com an. Bei der Tour de France zeigte der ältere der beiden Schleck-Brüder vor allem im Hochgebirge gewohnt starke Leistungen, die er mit dem Sieg auf der 17. Etappe nach Le Grand Bornand krönte. "Das ist ein großer Tag für unsere Familie“, jubelte der Tagessieger nach seinem Coup. In der Endabrechnung reichte es für den in den Zeitfahren wieder mal schwächelnden Schleck immerhin zu Rang fünf.

In der zweiten Saisonhilfe fuhr Fränk Schleck nur noch die Vuelta a Espana – und die nicht zu Ende. Dafür verantwortlich waren Knieprobleme, die ihm seit dem Frühjahr immer wieder zu schaffen machten. Kurz darauf bekam Schleck kurzfristig einen Operationstermin, verzichtete deshalb auf seinen WM-Start und beendete die Saison vorzeitig. „Ich hatte die Probleme seit April, sie kamen und gingen", so Schleck nach der erfolgreichen Operation. Gemeinsam mit seinem Bruder bereitet er sich bereits auf die neue Saison vor.

Schwerpunkte sind dann wieder die Ardennenklassiker und die Tour de France. „Ich habe Amstel gewonnen, jetzt kann Andy das Rennen gewinnen. Er hat dieses Jahr Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich gewonnen, und das wird mein Ziel für die kommende Saison. So lautet zumindest der Plan", so Fränk Schleck.



From RTL
Sport: Andy Schleck, Liz May an FLTT-Dammen uewen um Podium
Bei der Wiel vun de beschte Sportler vum Joer stounge bei den Hären den Andy Schleck, bei den Dammen d'Liz May a bei den Equippen d'FLTT-Dammen op Plaz 1.

Um Donneschdegowend war et zu Munneref am Casino 2000 déi grouss Sportler-Gala, bei där déi bedeitendst sportlesch Leeschtunge vum Joer ausgezeechent goufen.

Sportler vum Joer ass den Andy Schleck, Sportlerin vum Joer ass d'Liz May an d'Equipe vum Joer sinn d'FLTT-Dammen, also d'Nationalequipe vun der Dëschtennisfederatioun. Si sinn also d'Successeure vun der Judoka Marie Müller, dem Cyclist Kim Kirchen an der Football-Nationalequipe, déi 2008 gewielt gi waren.

Ranking beschte Sportler (12 Kandidaten):
1) Andy Schleck (533 Punkten)
2) Fränk Schleck (276)
3) Dirk Bockel (198)
4) Raphael Stacchiotti (153)
5) Kim Kirchen (82)

Ranking beschte Sportlerin:
1) Liz May (522)
2) Ni Xia Lin (257)
3) Marie Müller (207)
4) Christine Mailliet (174)
5) Sarah Rolko (170)

Raking beschten Equipe (3 Kandidaten)
1) FLTT Dammen (466)
2) HB Esch (350)
3) FC Déifferdeng 03 (304)

D'Liz May steet domat eng fënnefte Kéier an hirer Carrière ganz uewen um Podium


We want Andy Schleck as best Lux sportsman of the year!!

(Old) interview by cycling weekly

Delicious interview (and I belove Cycling Weekly: I used to read it when I was in UK...)

"Andy Schleck finally came of age in Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, gaining his biggest victory by some distance. The June 2009 e
dition of Cycle Sport, on sale now, features a major and exclusive interview with the young star, part of which is reproduced below.

Until this weekend, the funny thing about Andy Schleck was that he hadn’t actually won much.

Before his win at Liège, he had won just three races, and one of those was the Luxembourg time trial championships. The other two were stages at the 2006 Sachsen Tour.

Yet he will begin this year’s Tour as a favourite, and if we were Alberto Contador, we’d be just as worried about him as about Lance Armstrong.

The plans is that Schleck will be one of two team leaders at Saxo Bank come July, the other being his older brother Frank.

"Yeah, I think so," he said.

"We see. Last year I focused on the Tour, the Olympics and Liège. I always focus a little out of reach. I didn't win last year but to be up there is already something."

Schleck junior wasn't just 'up there' in those three races, he dominated each of them in their crucial stages. In Liège he jumped clear of the bunch on La Redoute, then pulled the winning group clear when four riders bridged across to him. At the Olympics he looked unstoppable on the horrifically humid climb to Badaling, so good that Davide Rebellin couldn't, or wouldn't, do a turn to help, although the canny Italian had known exactly whose wheel to follow. At the Tour he was the revelation of the race, as he was in the 2007 Giro when at the age of 21 he finished second and won the best young riders competition.

However, it was last year's Tour where Schleck really showed the world his talents. In the Alps at the end of the race he looked the strongest rider in the race on more than one occasion.

He did an incredible amount of work on the climb to Prato Nevoso in Italy, then again on the 2,802m high Bonette de Restefond, while on Alpe d'Huez he toyed with a group of riders containing Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde, Christian Vande Velde and Denis Menchov.

"Sometimes I get dropped and still look like I'm not suffering," he admits.

"But in the Alps I was really strong. We went up the Alpe and at the top I was like, 'that's it?' It went so quick, and that's a sign that I had good legs."

Andy Schleck did such a good job of marking the race favourites on Alpe d'Huez that Sastre won the race there and then. But Sastre did so by taking the yellow jersey from Frank Schleck. It’s well known now that Sastre subsequently fell out with team manager Bjarne Riis as it became clear he’d be riding for Cervelo in 2009. It must have been hard for Andy to do the work that essentially meant his brother lost the Tour de France.

"Kind of," came another nonchalant reply.

"But that's the strength of our team, we are loyal to our leader. To be really honest I would have loved Frank to have won the stage and gotten some time, but as we saw in the final time trial Carlos was fantastic, so it was him who deserved it.

"At the beginning of the Tour we said we had three leaders. Frank was in yellow [on Alpe d'Huez] and they were watching him more than Carlos. The morning of the stage we had a meeting and we said we want to win the stage and get time on the field.

"Sometimes you have to play your card, Carlos attacked and he was really strong that day, and for Frank and me there was no doubt. We said 'we have your back', and we did perfect work behind.

“We planned to attack first with Carlos, and if they would have chased him back it would have been Frank and then me. But he was really strong, and he stayed out there and as soon as we saw 30 seconds we [just controlled] the race behind him. It was cool, we had a plan that day and it worked out perfectly.

"Also he's been there for so many years and worked for other guys. I mean on the Alpe, Frank, me or Carlos could have won the stage."

The Schleck brothers will have to put sibling rivalry behind them if they’re to take on the might of Astana this July. Don’t underestimate the rivalry – no matter how friendly it is, it goes back 20 years, to the 1989 Tour and Andy’s earliest memories of his brother.

“I don't know why, but I was totally [for] Greg Lemond and he was totally [for] Fignon. I remember the last day he was actually crying because Fignon lost the Tour and I was happy."

Schleck contra Stander pics

Thanks Marit again: you are wonderful!!

More pics from the Camp and...

... perhaps you know that today is an important day, perhaps you don't: tonight in Luxembourg there is the gala du meilleur sportif 2009 and I have a personal idea about the winner... Unluckly I'll be there only on the 19, but I'm sure we'll find some good pic and vid to partecipate and celebrate.
Pics are from here:
(thanks Marit)



[Pic from RTL.lu]
...if that one is the last one, I must say I'm happy to see again the Eroica in Andy's schedule but I'm sorry he's not going to race next Tour of Luxembourg (I don't think so, really: it will change for sure). In that article they say nothing about the end of the season, but I hope that our guys will race in Italy again this time. We'll see. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next year and next cycling season... and you?

Saxo Bank riders' racing calendar released

The Schleck brothers' racing calendar for 2010 has been announced today, with Saxo Bank Directeur Sportif Kim Andersen confirming to Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidian that neither brother will compete in Ronde van Vlaanderen.

The two brothers will ride together for much, but not all of the season. They will start together at the Trofeo Mallorca (February 7-11) before moving on to the Ruta del Sol (February 21-25). At that point they will separate, with Andy going to the Monte Paschi Eroica (March 6) and Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16). Fränk will take on Paris-Nice (March 7-13), where he finished second overall in 2009.

The brothers will reunite in March for Milano-Sanremo (March 20) before parting ways again.

Fränk will ride the Volta a Catalunya (March 22-28), while Andy will take on three races to get used to the cobblestones he will experience on the third stage of the Tour de France: Dwars door Vlaanderen (March 24), E3 Prijs Vlaanderen (March 27) and Gent-Wevelgem (March 28).

For the first time, neither of them will ride the Criterium International, Saxo Bank Directeur Sportif Kim Andersen told Le Quotidian. Andersen also confirmed that a draft schedule that had included the Ronde van Vlaanderen had been replaced by today's final programme, with both riders to skip the Belgian Classic. Andy will instead head to Spain for the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (April 5-10).

From there, the brothers will take on their first major season objectives, the Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold Race (April 18), Flèche Wallonne (April 21) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 25).

In the further lead up to the Tour de France, Andy will head to the US and the Tour of California (May 16-23), while Fränk will ride his homeland race, the Tour of Luxembourg (June 2-6). Together they will take on the Tour de Suisse (June 12-20) before going to the Tour de France (July 3-25).

How they survived

[Pic by
Danny In T Ven: thanks for sharing :)]
Training Camp 2009

[09.12 10:10] The noise of the rotor blade rotation and the feeling of the rushing adrenaline pumping through my veins for a split second I forget the simple instructions on my way out of the helicopter. The moment Nicki Sørensen's voice weakly penetrates the noise on my way behind the machine with my head bowed eyeing the ground, I become aware that the close shave meeting the rotating blades would cause would only be productive in terms of the blood-red headlines on the front page of newspapers around the world. I find the right way by running in front of the helicopter along with Michael Mørkøv and Nicki Sørensen, before it lifts off to pick up the rest of the Team Saxo Bank personnel on top of an unknown mountain on the island, Fuerteventura off Africa's northwestern coast.

The training camp is for all employees on the team. Mechanics, soigneurs, riders, management, sports directors. The camp serves as a common frame of reference for the employees who are working closely together during the season.

"The most important thing on the camp is not to win the individual competitions. The key is having the chance to look one another in the eyes and thereby get to know each other. If the employees from the staff had not been here with the riders we could be missing out on these moments where the staff's and riders' skills and strengths must be combined to achieve the ultimate goal and find solutions to various hardships. Both strengths and weaknesses are exposed and each of us is forced to take off our mask. Even a world-class rider suddenly becomes human when he hesitates about having to go out into the cold water”, says Michael Mørkøv who just arrived Fuerteventura with a fresh victory from the six-day race in Ghent.

That opinion is being backed up by the Tour de France stage winner Nicki Sørensen: "I am pleased that all employees on the team participate. In this way, team building truly becomes to be about team building and cooperation with people with other competencies than the riders”.

The helicopter flight is the last stage of an eventful series of diverse skills-intensive activities over three days, which take its real beginning on the resort, Playitas where we are all staying during Team Saxo Bank's annual training camp and team building. Playitas is an oasis in the impoverished flora of Fuerteventura which is characterized by a barren but at the same time fascinating lunar landscape with highly weathered and eroded rock.

The activity-day is launched on the beach where five groups of eleven guys are each using a two-man kayak to sail around a buoy a few hundred meters out in the ocean. Everyone in the group must go through the trip twice before the baton is over and the winner of the eleven sandwiches is found. Number two in the competition gets a smaller amount of sandwiches, even fewer for number three and so forth. Teamwork is highly rewarded:

“The main objective having this training camp is to give all employees a chance of getting to know each other by working closely together. When you have been through hardships you learn how teamwork works in practice and that it pays off to use each other's different skills. Furthermore, it is essential that riders are aware of the great value of the office staff and their influence on the results”, says team owner Bjarne Riis who follows his employees closely during the whole trip.

Similarly, food is distributed to the participants after the orientation course, the golf competition, the diving contest and the absolute toughest competition where each team is put in the ocean 1.5 kilometers out to sea where they are left with two surfboards which they must bring to shore. The weaker swimmers are naturally positioned on the board while the rest of the group pushes them to shore. The concept of motivation, confidence and teamwork permeates all the exercises.

On the bus on the way to the starting point for the survival camp the following day, we are all excited and the dusty landscape gives Gustav Larsson the opportunity to, in most entertaining of ways to tell hunter anecdotes from the dark Swedish forests where hunters have become the hunted and moose and wild boar have become hunters, continuing with stories from South Asia where deadly centipede rage villages making life dangerous for unsuspecting tourists. Ironic justice in the extreme.

Thus arrived, the leaders of the survival camp are searching through our bags and clothes. No chocolate, cokes, cell phones and other lifelines can be carried along except the small amount of food that was won during yesterday's activity-day.
Now, a 16-kilometer long trek with backpacks through the barren desert landscape awaits, finishing with a few kilometers of hiking on the beach. The trip takes us past a small fortress which reportedly was used as the last stop of the Nazis just after WWII on their escape to South America.

The rest of the day is being spent finding necessities such as water, firewood and blankets using maps, mountain bikes and four-wheeled motorcycles in the rugged terrain. Cooperation and visible leadership is rewarded with the basic elements of survival.

Upon a chilly night in the open, we swim out in the ocean with our clothes in a bag to get on the jet skis where the ride with Frank Høj proves that this rider not only has the need for speed sitting on a bike. A ten kilometer breathtaking ride across the waves with the prospect of flying fish ends by a motorboat which the whole group boards and is being transported down the coast line.

Another swim from the boat to the shore leads us to the mountain bikes on which we are to transport ourselves to the top of the mountain where our group will be awaiting the rest of the crew's arrival.
On arrival, we all climb in an almost symbolic gesture up to the mountain peak where we collect stones and rocks and form the words: TEAM SAXO BANK.

A few seconds later, the helicopter propeller admonishes. The helicopter which should bring us all down to safety in the bottom of the valley from where we went mountain biking. And here, the ring reconnects. A closure that could have had a bloody ending, were it not for the due diligence and hail from Nicki Sørensen.
Life is in our own hands but without cooperation, social interaction and the awareness of the qualities of your partner, colleagues and friends, the great achievements slip through our fingers.
The training camp has been a success.


Pics from the camp

Thanks Danny :) More pics from here http://sport.rtl.lu/news/fotoen/3131/overview/1/on My blog: thanks Fede and Anna, we are a great network, yeah!

Video from the camp


[Thanks Zara :)]


Increasing taste...and vote

The results of my second pool are very interesting: in first place, 68 persons voted, lots more then in the previous one (ok, the question was more 'popular'); no doubs, you prefer 2009 jersey (and so do I) but in my opinion that is also the consequence of increasing notoriety of Andy Schleck. I mean: the 4 dudes who voted for 2006 jersey have an idea of how it was, but I presume that the most of you (of us) knew Andy by the Giro 2007 or Tour 2008 and a lot of people only by the last Tour. It's hard to not notice such a young (and cute) racer who just won Liege and ended on the second place in Paris. Of course we are also Saxo Bank (ex-CSC) supporters and we probably know the old jerseys by Ivan Basso or Frank Schleck. But another significant thing is the almost regular increasing or your vote: increasing of popularity by the cycling side or/and also increasing by the fashion side? Are SB jersey designers developing a better taste? or are the 'old' jerseys already old also on that reward?
For sure Andy is always nice. And now... we are waiting for the 2010 jersey: any suggestions?

4 (5%)
2007 Andy in Giro
6 (8%)
2008 Andy in Tour 1
9 (13%)
2009 Andy in Tour 2
49 (72%)


Schleck's schedule for 2010: I'm looking forward!


Provisional Race Calendar - Calendrier Provisoire

07/02 - 11/02 Trofeo Mallorca Fränk & Andy
07/03 - 13/03 Paris - Nice Fränk
10/03 - 16/03 Tirreno - Adriatico Andy
20/03 Milano - San Remo Fränk & Andy
27/03 - 28/03 Critérium International Fränk & Andy
04/04 Tour de Flandres Fränk & Andy
11/04 Klassika Primavera Fränk & Andy

Amstel Gold Race

Fränk & Andy

La Flèche Wallone

Fränk & Andy
25/04 Liège - Bastogne - Liège Fränk & Andy
25/05 - 30/05 Bayern Rundfahrt Andy
12/06 - 20/06 Tour de Suisse Fränk & Andy
25/06 &28/06 Championnat National Fränk & Andy
03/07 - 20/07 Tour de France Fränk & Andy
28/08 - 19/09 Tour d'Espagne Fränk & Andy
02/10 World Championship Fränk & Andy

Coppa Sabatini

Fränk & Andy
09/10 Giro dell'Emilia Fränk & Andy
16/10 Giro di Lombardia Fränk & Andy

Fuert-dis-aventura for Matti

We know nothing yet from Surviving Camp (the coolest stuff in the cyclodome à mon avis) but it seems that Matti is not enjoying it so much this year... Get well soon, dude and you guys be careful! Pics coming soon, doesn't they?
[Pic by Bettini]

Breschel injures ankle at Saxo Bank training camp

By:Susan Westemeyer

Dane may have to miss team's annual survival training

Matti Breschel's experience at the Saxo Bank training camp has not got off to a good start. An ankle injury has sidelined him for several days.

“I stumbled over a rock, and my ankle is pretty swollen,” he told the Danish broadcaster TV 2 Sport. “Our doctor has put some ice on, and it feels okay really. I'm pretty sure it's not broken, but it's damned annoying.”

The team has gathered on Fuertaventura in the Canary Islands for a training camp and its annual survival training exercise. The latter will commence unannounced, and it is not known whether Breschel will be able to take part, as he has been told to stay off the ankle for an undetermined amount of time.