Schleck wants return to top of cycling

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Tour de France winner Andy Schleck wants to show the world he hasn’t turned into a couch potato after his 2012 cycling season was wrecked by injury.

Schleck will start the new season at the Tour Down Under this month, making his first appearance in the South Australian race.

He is keen to erase the memories of last year, when a fractured pelvis from a crash in the Criterium du Dauphine in early June forced him out of not only the Tour de France but the Olympic Games and the world championships.

This year, he plans to race as much as possible and has already booked in a full schedule that will have him competing every week until the French grand tour in July, which he won in 2010 after Alberto Contador was stripped of the title over a doping charge.

“My last season was not really a season because I was injured all the time,” Schleck said after arriving in Adelaide on Thursday.

“This year, I don’t go into the Tour as a favourite because I was absent last year.

“But I have a pretty big ego and I’d like to show the people that I’m still a good bike rider and not a couch potato.

“I know what I can do and I know what I can achieve and, if I’m 100 per cent, I think I won’t finish too far back.”

Schleck says changes to the Tour Down Under route this year, including the introduction of another tough climb, will favour his style, turning the race into one for allrounders rather than pure sprinters.

But he says he doesn’t have ambitions of overall victory and plans to use the event as preparation for the spring classics in Europe.

Defending champion Simon Gerrans is a more likely winner, the Luxembourger says.

The Tour Down Under kicks off with the Adelaide street race on January 20 ahead of the six-day tour from January 22.

© AAP 2014
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