say this season for the Schlecks and RadioShack-Nissan has been one to
forget is an understatement, and the latest news coming out of the team
camp suggests there are also a few internal management tensions.
in February, as the reality of the freshly minted RadioShack and Leopard
Trek merger was starting to sink in, it was all sweetness and light.
Optimism reigned and success for Andy and the team was all in front of
them, with Johan Bruyneel driving the bus.
"We had training camps
two-and-a-half weeks in Mallorca. Johan is now also in Luxembourg so we
meet quite a lot We did testing on the track with time-trial bikes,"
Andy Schleck told Cycling Central's Sophie Smith at the Tour of Oman.
see more and more it's definitely a good direction to go with Johan
because he really has a lot of experience more than I
actually thought before. I always knew that he was good. He's worked
with the best in the world. It's hard to put it in words what you learn
because you talk a lot, you train a lot, you work a lot. We did a lot
more than the last year already," Schleck explained.
Johan is really good because as a cyclist your body has got to be strong
but you've also got to be strong in the head and confident and that's
definitely a strong point also.
"When I was in good shape last
year I never had any problem with confidence in races. But it's not just
confidence it's to make the right decisions in the right moments, in a
race and also in training. That's something you've got to work on and
something you can learn."
And it is the relationship with
Bruyneel that most keen watchers of the pro cycling scene were
scrutinising. With many predicting the man who shepherded Lance Armstrong
to seven Tour de France victories would either provide a rod for the
backs of the seemingly hesitant Schlecks or the whole thing would come
But in the fullness of time, in reality three
months later, and with no real results or form to show for the Schlecks'
new association with Bruyneel the outcome remains uncertain. And news
that long time Schleck confidant Kim Andersen has been effectively
sidelined from involvement in the Tour de France only adds to that
"It's the plan we set out with in the past at the
beginning of the year and I have the people I've worked with for a
number of years who have shown that they know how to manage a big tour
and with those people there I'm sure that everybody will have the
necessary support they need to make the right decisions," Bruyneel
explained to Daniel Benson at Cyclingnews about the side-lining of Andersen.
Bruyneel is anything at all it's a results based realist, as his
comments post another result free race at Liege-Bastogne-Liege attest.
hope this will serve as motivation for the second part of the season.
If we look back there isn't a good explanation for why things haven't
worked, other than that both of the Schlecks have had some illness this
season. So we have to use this lack of results as motivation and tell
ourselves that we start from zero and try to get back to earning good
So it may be that this entire season is a 'year zero'
for Andy and Frank and Bruyneel is only doing what a good manager does.
Prudently trimming the fat and ridding the team for the biggest race of
the year of any previous associations that have only delivered runner-up
results (I'm still counting 2010 as a second).
With Bruyneel's proven
management and the Schlecks' significant talents there may yet be a surprise
in store in July. After all, creative tensions often produce successful
We all know the received wisdom about Andy's
prospects for the 2012 Tour; there are too many time-trial kilometres on
the agenda for him and Frank to make an impact. And I agree with that
wisdom. But is it time for the Schleck camp to panic? Probably not.
time last year there were many of the same questions being asked of the
Schlecks as the siblings headed into the Tour de France and they
answered all of them with the exception of one. Cadel Evans.