Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Brotherly love stops either Schleck from taking charge

Reuters, VALENCE, FRANCE

Leopard Trek team riders Frank Schleck, left, and Andy Schleck of Luxembourg cycle during a team training session on the second rest day of the Tour de France on Monday in Soyons, France.

Photo: EPA

With less than one week of racing left, the Schleck brothers have yet to figure out whether it will be Andy or Frank that will lead their Tour de France challenge. Both are high in the overall standings and Andy was runner-up to Alberto Contador in the last two editions of the Tour.

They still have a chance to claim their first grand Tour, but one of them will have to make a sacrifice to help his brother and Leopard Trek teammate win.

“We know that we cannot both win the Tour, at least not in the same year,” Andy told a news conference on Monday. “I only see one of us being on the podium, but in the yellow jersey.”

Frank has had the best season, winning the Criterium International and finishing second in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic, but his best results in three-week races were fifth places in the 2008 and 2009 Tours and in last year’s Vuelta.

“Andy and I understand each other very well,” said Frank, who admitted he struggled in the last 2km of Saturday’s mountain stage to the Plateau de Beille. “If it turns out that one day we have to sacrifice [our chances] for the other, we will do it. We’re not going to fight against each other.”

However, Andy attacked in the ascent to the Plateau de Beille in order to drop Contador, Australian Cadel Evans and Italian Ivan Basso, only for the Luxembourg rider to stop and look behind to check on his older brother — arguably damaging his own chances.

Sacrifices will be made though, Andy said.

“We’d prefer to have one of us as the champion and the other in 20th place,” he said. “Obviously we talk about tactics and perfect scenarios, but sometimes it is up to one of us to decide on the day.”

The brothers will have to make a choice quickly as there are only two potentially decisive mountain stages left, tomorrow and on Friday. On Saturday, both are expected to lose significant ground in the final time trial, where Evans, Basso and Contador fare much better.

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