EVERYONE WILL OVERTAKE ME, COMMENTS ANDY SCHLECK THE PARTICIPATION IN L’ETAPE CZECH REPUBLIC
He claims he swims a lot because he can't use "his" bike for days like he used to, but he still tried downhill mountain biking down the ski slope in Méribel, France. At home in Itzig, not far from the capital Luxembourg, he runs a bicycle shop and is also the president of the Race Around Luxembourg. In addition, he gives motivational lectures around the world, where he tells his life story. Andy Schleck will also come and tell his story to the Czech Republic as a superstar at the start of the June L’Etape Czech Republic by Tour de France.
It has been twelve years since a Luxembourger has (not) won the most famous cycling race in the galaxy. In Paris in July 2010, he stood on the podium under Albert Contador, yet he eventually won the yellow jersey. He was awarded it retrospectively, in February 2012 after the Spaniard lost the doping arbitration.
TOUR de FRANCE? VICTORY IN THE GALIBIER
That race actually made him who he is today. His dad Johny had used to race on the Tour before. Andy himself grew up on it and then he and his brother Fränek even got to race on it. And when the younger of the siblings eventually took first place, the other one finished second.
"In that race, I experienced so many emotions and so many states of mind that it is difficult to choose just one as the strongest memory. There are countless of them, " said Schleck, pointing out at least some: absolute support and trust from the team, climbing Galibier, podium in Paris ..." But if any memory is to stand above the others, then it's my victory on Galibier, because it was the thing I've always dreamed of. "
Since it's been twelve years since the biggest victory of his career and eight since he retired due to a chronically sore knee, Schleck is no longer the translucent racer who weighed less than 70 kilograms at 186 centimeters.
"I'm maintaining my physique, it is true," Schleck assured in an online interview for Czech media. "But I only ride my bike occasionally. All my life I had to train according to a plan, follow a schedule, a healthy diet, which fortunately I don't have to do anymore. But I will be fit enough for the start at L’Etape. ”
Compared to all stages that Schleck once raced on during his professional life, the Czech one would be much easier, still, he does not want to take it lightly. In the end, he's a former pro, isn't he? "As I saw the propositions, there is going to be a big challenge ahead of us. It will be difficult for me too, "he said and then recalled where he had already completed this branch of the famous Tour de France:" In Taiwan, in Shanghai, also in London, two in China, in California ... I know the concept very well. It's a great event and I'm already looking forward to being in Prague and riding L’Etape as my birthday ride. "
START AT THE TOP, FINISH AT THE BOTTOM
This is because the famous Luxembourger will celebrate his 37th birthday just the day before the shot from the starter's pistol. "I'm not stressed with the result," he assured. I am not coming to win the race, I am coming to present the Tour de France brand as its former winner. I will be there to show people what cycling is, that it is not just about racing, but mainly about moving outside. That is the philosophy I am preaching today. The racing chapter is long gone for me, but I know that at the start the competitors will be hungry for victory. And that's good because competition is necessary. But I will definitely not be the one standing on the podium. "
Mainly because Schleck has now a fairly clear racing strategy, entirely different from previous years. Before, there was no other option than taking the first place, but it will be different now in Prague: he will start at the top and finish at the bottom because, like that, everyone will get to overtake him at some point on the track.
"I will try to meet as many participants as possible," promised Andy Schleck, who is not afraid of the big numbers of fans. "It will not be the first time for me. I love meeting people. Still, I am afraid that it will be „la mission impossible“ to meet and talk to everyone, but I will do my best. I want to discuss my past with people and pass on my view of cycling today."
ZDENEK STYBAR? A GREAT PERSON
If Schleck will probably be the most famous face in the field, the long-time ambassadors of L’Etape are Ján Svorada, a former elite spurter and winner of the final stage of the Tour de France in the Champs Elysées in Paris, and Zdeněk Štybar, who also recorded one win from Grande Boucle. He celebrated it seven years ago in Le Havre.
"Zdeněk, even though we haven't seen each other for a long time, I know him well, we trained together in Mallorca," Schleck recalled. "We were almost neighbors, we had houses close to each other. He's a great racer, but more importantly for me, he's a great man - he lives for cycling, but still stays with his feet on the ground. Although probably ... or better, definitely, he is in much better shape than I am, he won't come to win either. "
After the Slovaks, the Luxembourgers will be the second most-represented nation at the start of L’Etape in Prague. Or at least it looked like that two months before the start because a dozen of them were already registered at the beginning of April. It is partly Schleck's doing that cycling is so popular in a tiny country surrounded by France, Belgium, and Germany.
"And also thanks to my brother and the whole history of Luxembourg," maybe the most famous Luxembourger explained. "If we look at history, we have four Tour de France winners and six Tour winnings in Luxembourg, which is unbelievable for a nation that has just around 600,000 people. And even half of them are ex-pats. We are truly a multicultural nation. "
ANDY SCHLECK WILL NOT START IN BEER DRINKING COMPETITION
Even though the Luxembourg ex-champion nowadays travels around the world for his work (even the video call took place while he was sitting under the mountains in Austria), he himself has never been to the country that will welcome him in two months. "And I'm a little ashamed of it. It must be one of the few countries I've never visited before. "
However, despite this small imperfection, his connection with the Czech Republic remains strong. Not only do many of his friends live in Prague, but especially Andy Schleck has been wearing a Škoda Auto "jersey" since 2018, and during the Tour de France he works for the Mladá Boleslav brand as an expert and also the leader of the Early Bird program.
"Frankly, I am looking forward to Prague. I hope that I will spend some time there with my family and that - as soon as I cross the finish line of L’Etape - we will have a nice weekend there. ” I was told that after the race, there will be a lot of beer, the national drink. "I already managed to understand that much from the meeting with some Czechs," Schleck smiled. "But like I already said - I'm not a racer anymore, so I don't need to compete in how many beers I drink."