Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek rider Frank Schleck is expected to ride well during the Tour de France, but don’t expect him to be a general classification threat, according to the rider from Luxembourg.
Schleck had this to say to Het Nieuwsblad:
“I don’t want to be captain (at the tour). I can’t continue to perform at top level. I did the preparation for the Ardennes classics, then I went unexpectedly to the Giro.” He noted, “I'm not a machine. You should be realistic. I am already very lean and in great shape, I cannot continue to maintain this level.”
Team Sport Director Kim Andersen believes Schleck can be competitive, but agreed with Schleck’s assessment:
“I've obviously heard predictions that Fränk with his current form has a good chance to be in the showdown for the win, but to pin your hopes on it seems to me crazy. It should be remembered that Fränk has competed at a high level ever since the start of Giro d'Italia in early May, so it's completely unrealistic to believe that he can compete among the best in the Tour over three weeks in July.”
The team was supposed to focus all of its energy to catapult Andy Schleck to the top spot of the podium, but an injury has forced him out. The elder Schleck brother will still be the protected rider on Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, but the focus could be more on stage wins rather than the overall GC.
This could be a tactic to help alleviate some pressure that is now thrust upon Schleck’s shoulders—without Andy, he’s the next-best climber, finishing in third place behind Cadel Evans and his brother Andy at the 2011 Tour.
It’s true that trying to keep top form for so long likely isn’t possible, but downplaying his chances could force other teams to get out front and set tempo. Team BMC, riding to protect defending champion Evans, will now have the main responsibility of setting tempo and keeping the pace under control.
However, Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Movistar and several other teams may see chinks in the armor and try to launch attacks if BMC falters.
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek also is dealing with other distractions, so it'll be hard to see if that plays a role when the race starts.