Team RadioShack-Nissan would’ve liked to have more wins heading into the Tour de France with its stars Fränk and Andy Schleck. It’s suffered blows, however, with Fabian Cancellara’s crash in the Tour of Flanders, Jakob Fuglsang’s persistent knee problem and lately, Andy Schleck’s lack of condition.
The media has gone crazy with it, a ping and pong of articles ranging from team manager Johan Bruyneel saying only Cancellara is guaranteed a spot on the Tour team to Andy judging Bruyneel’s management methods.
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Bruyneel came to the Schleck’s Luxembourg-based team over the winter. He’d spent years as Lance Armstrong’s head sports director and then saw to Alberto Contador’s two Tour wins. Team Leopard’s owner, Flavio Becca dumped former manager Brian Nygaard over the winter and signed a deal that saw Bruyneel come in with his some of his riders and main sponsor RadioShack.
Cycling Weekly asked Bruyneel today at the Critérium du Dauphiné – where Andy Schleck has lost more than five minutes so far to Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans – if the atmosphere was good within the team.
Bruyneel said: “The only point of not being happy, is that the results don’t correspond to what we expected in the beginning of the year, and that’s not only to do with Andy or Fränk, it’s a general thing.
“We were announced as a super team with big names, but the results are not what we expected. As a consequence, we can’t be satisfied with the results. In a team that wins, everyone is happy and joyful at the table. In a team that doesn’t win, there’s another atmosphere.”
Andy Schleck suffered from a virus earlier this year, and his only result has been the presentation of the 2010 Tour de France title after Contador’s ban was upheld by the CAS
After a disasterous Giro d’Italia where Frank Schleck quit after two weeks, much to Bruyneel’s annoyance, citing a shoulder injury, the pressure has continued to build within the team at the Dauphiné. Andy slipped behind on a category three climb on stage one and lost 3-10 minutes by the finish. Today, he rode better, but still lost 1-47 minutes.
“There’s no particular reason, there’s nothing physically wrong. He thinks he has a lack of rhythm, a lack of competition. He couldn’t deal with the accelerations,” Bruyneel continued. “He wasn’t worried. Today, he said that he felt a lot better. He thinks he can improve a lot. He said that it’s recurring, he’s never been on a good level in [Tour du] Suisse, which is a week later. He’s confident [he’ll improve] with the Dauphiné and with the training we have planned, in the Pyrenees and Alps.”
Bruyneel said the atmosphere is different than what he was used to in teams US Postal and Discovery Channel. He added, however, that it’s unfair to compare teams and generations.
He explained that he’s impressed with Cancellara’s comeback from a broken collarbone and Fuglsang’s recent win in the Tour of Luxembourg. Again, he cautioned that Andy has yet to finish the Dauphiné and Fränk still faces the Tour of Switzerland.
“We have the quality. I’ve seen super performances in the Tour de France by someone who six weeks before wasn’t even considered… I’m sure we’ll have a team ready.”