The 2012 Tour de France route is producing a 'boring' race this year, according to RadioShack-Nissan's Fränk Schleck. He has been in the top five three times, third last year, but this year he is suffering. It is partly due to crashes and partly due to the parcours.
"It's a strange tour, not one like we used to see from the other years," he told Cycling Weekly. "Like we knew ahead of the race, I believe it's one for time trialists."
Schleck stepped on the final podium of last year's Tour with his brother Andy behind winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). The duo tried to shake Evans in the Alps to gain time ahead of the final time trial. They succeeded. Andy carried the yellow jersey for one day and into the last time trial in Grenoble, where Evans turned the tables and won the race overall.
Andy had to miss the Tour this year due to a small hip fracture. Fränk is in France, though, and dealing with an unfavourable parcours.
Last year, the race featured 65.5 kilometres of time trials. This year, there are 101.4 kilometres. The Tour organiser planned it this way to bring out attacks on several of the smaller climbs and the stages through the high-mountains.
"I think that was the idea behind it. Sometimes you have a good profile for you, sometimes it's bad. Sometimes if it's bad for you, it's good for someone else. It always equals out," Fränk said. "This year it's bad for me. I can live with that."
Schleck rode with race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) for part of the climb to La Toussuire, but he is not threatening for the overall win this year. He is tired from his early season racing schedule and lost time, two minutes to a crash and 4-32 in the Besançon time trial.
He sits 12th overall at 9-45 minutes back from Wiggins.
"Sometimes it's good for you, sometimes it's bad for someone else. I'm not complaining," Schleck said.
"Guys like me, [Vincenzo] Nibali and Andy, if he was here, we'd have to attack early into the race, but then you have team Sky who just have to control from behind. I think the idea [of the course design] was good, to make the race even more aggressive. It's great how they did it and a great idea, but I think they are just going to have a boring Tour."
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Wiggins still Sky's main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees
Millar's Tour win comes after 'second chance'
Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire
Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance
Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition
Wiggins: 'I'm not some s**t rider that's come from nowhere
Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration
Cavendish enjoying new Tour role
Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever
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