|At the signature|
When I met Andy I was already fond of cycling and willing to write about it because writing is my thing and cycling gives you tons of stories. But I really fell in love for him because he was - and still is - different. I'm not going to repeat what I have written many and many times about his huge talent and his Tour de France obsession, nor about his incredible way to live it - that amazing mix of determination and nonchalanche. When I met Andy he was a blessed young guy with a splendid smile. He looked absolutely happy and I coudn't see any shadow on his life. Getting closer, it upset me a lot to discern the less evident sides of his nature, but I wanted to understand way more than to judge.
I think I did a big effort. I have never been a 'fan' because that isn't my way to be in general. I have tried to be a friend because I like Andy and he - involuntarily - taught me a lot. But he's not an easy one. In spite he has told me a few times that he really apreciated what I was doing for him, altough we had some quite close moments, he has always kept me out. I don't want to sound harsh but according with my experience there is something true in what Jakob Fuglsag said: Andy takes a lot but gives few. At first - and for long! - you just can't avoid to love him and you tend to do anything for him. He's a fascinating guy. And I'm not talking of girlish 'love', 'hotness' of similar. When Andy Schleck turned pro all the cycling world was in love with him: commentators, fans, older riders, team mates....
Let me say he blew away a big assets of fondess. He did it accidentally, as far I know him, taking it for granted, reacting with surprise and bitterness when it was gone. Finally he closed himself off and on his twitter account - rarely used - you can read that he would like to keep 'a low profile'. Unfortunately if you have been Andy Schleck you can hardly become nobody: you are Andy Schleck forever with a negative sign in front and people search your name in the finish order even if you are far down the top ten.
But when you have spent years writing about a person, results are not important really. The last rider in the UCI ranking has probably got his fan club and friends don't let you down because your performances are disappointing. Of course you can't expect to be simply flattered. Friends are supposed to tell you the truth. Simply it doesn't affect their feeling for you. Now, I'm not going further around: it came a day when Andy's rude reply affected my feeling and I decided I didn't want to stand it anymore. A friend of mine said I overreacted. It could be. Andy didn't get it indead because he wrote me back: WHAT. I have nothing to add.
I had got a press accreditation for Tirreno but because Andy wasn't there I planned to cover Paris-Nice. It was already booked so I went to Nice. It has been hard. I didn't take pictures of him especially and I didn't go to the bus for him: Frank Schleck had been caght on the line so I wanted to see him after the race. I almost burst in tears when I met Andy but we didn't say hi and I didn't change my mind. I write it for the record.
Editing these photo has been really strange. It has been taken from far while I used to be very close, it has been taken with a mixed feeling while I used to put all myself in that. They are not my best pictures of Andy but they are the last ones probably so they have got an importance for me. Some of them are nice. Enjoy.