Setting up for a Schleck-tacular fail?
Anyone remember the epic duel that Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador had up the Col du Tourmalet at the 2010 Tour de France?
Or Schleck’s incredible and daring solo win on Stage 18 at last year’s Tour de France?
Andy certainly has had some incredible highs at the Tour. Two second places and a win (thanks to Alberto Contador’s positive test at the 2010 race) is a hell of a resume.
However, success in one particular race isn’t the measure of a legend. You must be versatile, have the ability to win in any given situation.
I regard Eddy Merckx as the greatest cyclist of all time (much to the chagrin of all the Armstrong lovers out there). Notwithstanding the fact that Merckx has won the most Grand Tours in cycling history (11: five Tours, five Giri and one Vuelta), Merckx was also king of the one day classics for an extended period, occasionally won a bunch sprint and could time trial like the wind (held the hour record for a number of years).
I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, comparing Andy Schleck to Eddy Merckx (that’s like trying to compare Tom Scully with Gary Ablett Jnr). But Schleck certainly has the potential and talent to be an extremely versatile rider.
Yet he isn’t and there are a few good reasons why:
1) His ability against the clock is appalling. Contador was similarly weak against the clock early in his career.
But whilst the Spaniard has worked hard on it and turned it into one of his main weapons, Schleck hasn’t. On a team which boasts the greatest time trial rider in history, Fabian Cancellara, there is no excuse for not seeking to improve this weakness.
2) He rides too much with his brother, Frank, in mind. Classic case in point? The 2011 Liege-Bastogne-Liege; both Schleck brothers were off the front with a rampaging Phillippe Gilbert.
Surely, having the numerical advantage would have cemented the win for at least one of them, right? Wrong. Neither wanted to attack the other, it ended up in a bunch sprint, Gilbert kicked both of them. Happens way too much when they race the Tour as well.
3) Most worryingly, neither seem particularly interested in any race apart from the Tour de France or the spring classics. Currently, Andy is more than five minutes behind Bradley Wiggins at the Criterium du Dauphine, the main warm-up event for the Tour de France.
If I was him and his team management, I’d be wanting to come into this race with a view to winning it and consolidating my form before a big race, not trying to find some form.
Back in the 1960s and ’70s, there was a French cyclist called Raymond Poulidor, who systematically suffered through the reigns of greats Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx.
He was nicknamed ‘eternal second’ as he finished second at the Tour de France three times and third five times, whilst never winning.
He, like Schleck, was not a great time trialler but could climb like few others. And, critically, his form in most other races was fairly lacklustre, except for the extraordinary results he could pull out at the Tour.
Anyone else spot a trend here?