Take away the dance music and great footage, and you have a rider that hasn’t performed in two years.
Andy Schleck is on his way back from a dreadful 2012. The year from hell included an injury that ruined his season and a positive drug test for brother Frank, and it seemed to linger into the spring. It took all of two months till this past March for Andy to get as many race days in 2013 as all of 2012, and he dropped out of more races than he finished. His Tour of California was promising, though he was well out of overall contention early on. It will be this Saturday, on the first stage of the Tour, that we see Andy with no more excuses, no more ways to hide.
He’s a rider many fans root for, though he makes it hard at times. His conservative style on some stages is puzzling, but he has also made some of the most dramatic attacks in Tour history, including the 2011 attack that nearly won him the Tour. His duel with Alberto Contador on the slopes of the Tourmalet in 2010 also deserve mention, and his attack at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2009 signalled him as the next great climber in the world of cycling.
Now, with the Tour fast approaching, Schleck will be under the gun to perform at his highest level in years. There’s no way to know which Schleck will show up; the aggressive, swashbuckling attack of 2009, 2010 and 2011, or the passive, quick to give up Schleck of the past two seasons. We know that when he wants to win, and when he wants to be there, he can be, though it’s hard to see him finishing in the top 20 in Paris.
He’s gone from an overwhelming favorite to a Quixotic dark horse, which, if you’re paying attention, is kolo t.c.’s favorite kind of horse. Don’t be surprised to see Andy go for it all on the double-Alpe d’Huez stage late in the race, where he’ll look to duplicate Frank’s massive win in 2008.
Where do you think Andy will finish? Podium, Top Twenty, or at home on the couch?
Here’s Craft’s video for Andy.