Tour de France Favorite Andy Schleck Out
Andy Schleck has had a tough year. The 27-year-old star from Luxembourg came into the 2012 season gunning for the Tour de France's maillot jaune (after three consecutive years as runner-up*), but so far has been sick, had knee problems and crashed out of the Critérium du Dauphiné after limping along half an hour behind the leaders. Yesterday, he officially withdrew from this year's Tour as a result of injuries suffered in the Dauphiné.
On June 7, Schleck was literally blown off the road in the 53km time trial stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, which is often considered a last-stop tuneup for the Tour de France, which begins June 30. A fierce gust of wind caused matchstick-thin Schleck to lose control on a right-hand turn and topple hard to the pavement. He ripped his shorts, bruised his ribs and bloodied his hands, but wore a brave face, telling Cycling News, "I've abandoned enough times already this year." But his pain was evident in the following days, as he lost major time to his competitors in the mountains and, eventually, abandoned.
Yesterday, Schleck revealed that his injuries are worse than originally thought. His time trial wipeout also broke his pelvis, and the fracture is right where there's pressure from his saddle—not exactly ideal for cycling nearly 3,500 km in less than a month. As Schleck’s doctor bluntly put it, “He cannot ride a bike.” Schleck is calling his withdrawal the “biggest disappointment” of his career.
While a Schleck could still win the Tour this year—Andy’s 32-year-old brother, Fränk (who finished third last year), will be in the race—it looks like Andy will have to wait another year.
*Schleck is officially the Tour’s 2010 champion, thanks to Alberto Contador's retroactive disqualification for doping. This asterisked win will never be as sweet for Schleck, though. “Maybe it’s in the books,” Schleck said in an interview in the July issue of Outside, “but for me it’s not a victory. Standing in yellow in Paris is how I would like it.”