Is it time to finally write-off Andy Schleck?
After a year with no results, no Tour and a nagging injury, Andy Schleck’s slow return to racing in 2013 hasn’t ignited any renewed intent on greatness. When the Younger Schleck’s mug made the kolo t.c. Facebook page, the top comment was “Is Andy Schleck still relevant?”
It may be time to let the Schleck story turn over. Andy’s Ardennes Classics campaign was positively ugly in 2012. He dropped out of more races than he finished, while his big targets like Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold and the rest were flops. Schleck only made an appearance on the television to be seen drifting back to the cars, or pulling off his bike all together.
The implosion of the RadioShack team all year was highlighted by the Tour of Flanders injury to Fabian Cancellara. With Fabs gone, so went the team’s threat in the spring and so rose the pressure in July. Andy’s injury ruled him out, while a whining Frank Schleck rode the Giro and started the Tour only to get yanked for a positive test. He will finish his one year ban this July, ruling him out of the 2013 Tour.
But for Andy, this season is absolutely crucial. The team has lost some massive names in years past, including Janez Brajkovic, Jakob Fuglsang, and missed out on signing new riders of true Grand Tour quality. Outside of Andy, the best threat is probably Chris Horner, who practically had to beg his way to France last summer. After Cancellara’s spring campaign, and with no Prologue, RadioShack Trek will rely on Andy Schleck for any big results.
And there isn’t a lot to pin their hopes to. His Tour Down Under was largely uneventful, with even his climbing being greatly outdone by Kiwi phenom George Bennett. (Write this down: Bennett WILL win the Tour one day.) Sure, he’s not trying to do anything so early, but he looks largely uninterested in racing or helping the team. He’s now retired from the Tour of the Mediterranean due to respiratory problems, meaning he is already dropped from half of his racing days through February. That’s a huge difference in preparation that will be hard to make up in the spring, and with his track record in 2012, may not happen at all.