Schleck: No panic over slump
Triesenberg-Malbun - Tour de France contender Andy Schleck on Thursday waved off concerns about his form after failing to follow the pace on the hilly sixth stage of the Tour of Switzerland.
A two-time runner-up at the Tour de France behind Spaniard Alberto Contador, Schleck said earlier this week he will start the July 2-24 epic with the firm intention of winning the fabled yellow jersey.
However eyebrows were raised on the summit finish here Thursday when the Luxemburger, who rides for Leopard, began trailing after just two kilometres of the brutal 12km climb to the summit.
Schleck, who is using the race to top up his condition for July but is not contending overall victory this week, eventually finished over 14 minutes behind stage winner Steven Kruijswijk, who rides for Rabobank.
The Luxemburger later explained he took his time finishing because he realised quickly he would be unable to follow the pace.
"It was a very bad day," said Schleck, who had tested his legs with an impressive show of pace-setting on the climb to Crans-Montana on Sunday.
"In the first couple of mountain stages I felt much better. Today I felt very early on the climb that my legs weren't good, so I decided I wasn't going to punish myself for the rest of the climb."
It might be music to the ears of Contador and other key rivals for the yellow jersey, but they will all know that Schleck's slump says little about his yellow jersey chances.
There are four weeks to go until the crucial mountain stages of the Tour de France, and Schleck is unconcerned.
"There's no panic. Last year I wasn't always good in the Tour of Switzerland," added Schleck, who was beaten to the yellow jersey by only 39secs last year.
"The first stage of the TDF is still several weeks away and the real race will begin in four weeks in the mountains."
Leopard's Maxime Montfort, who along with German teammate Linus Gerdemann had the job of setting the tempo for Frank Schleck on the climb as he looks to maintain his overall challenge, was quick to put Andy Schleck's slump into perspective.
"It was a hard climb, but it's not the Tour de France either and a lot of guys here are still not 100 percent," said the Belgian.
"Andy needs the pressure of the Tour (to excel). He can't be 100 percent mentally ready every day of the year.
"And if you remember, he was pretty much the same at last year's Tour of Switzerland. I wouldn't be worrying about him."Results from the Tour of Switzerland sixth stage, a 157.7km ride between Tobel-Tagerschen and Triesenberg-Malbun in Liechtenstein on Thursday:Stage
1. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/RAB) 4hr 12min 03sec
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA/RSH) at 09secs
3. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 18
4. Bauke Mollema (NED/RAB) 21
5. Giampaolo Caruso (ITA/KAT) same time
6. Frank Schleck (LUX/LEO) 30
7. Mathias Frank (SUI/BMC) s.t.
8. Laurens Ten Dam (NED/RAB) 1:19
9. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/LEO) 1:27
10. Tom Danielson (USA/GRM) 1:42Selected:
13. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/THR) 2:15
15. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/KAT) 2:21
23. Cyril Dessel (FRA/ALM) 4:10
44. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA/QST) 9:02
57. Andy Schleck (LUX/LEO) 14:15General classification
1. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 21hr 26min 28sec
2. Bauke Mollema (NED/RAB) 1:23
3. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/RAB) 1:36
4. Frank Schleck (LUX/LEO) 1:41
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA/RSH) 1:59
6. Laurens Ten Dam (NED/RAB) 2:24
7. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/LEO) 2:45
8. Mathias Frank (SUI/BMC) 3:10
9. Giampaolo Caruso (ITA/KAT) 3:11
10. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/THR) 3:22Selected:
11. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/KAT) 4:00
12. Tom Danielson (USA/GRM) 4:51
28. Andy Schleck (LUX/LEO) 20:28
31. Cyril Dessel (FRA/ALM) 24:37
52. Mickael Cherel (FRA/ALM) 38:18