Updated: Andy Schleck out of Tour de France through injury in "biggest disappointment" of his career
Injuries suffered in Dauphiné worse than originally thought, now targeting Vuelta
Andy Schleck of RadioShack Nissan this afternoon confirmed that he will not be able to take part in this year's Tour de France, describing it as the "biggest disappointment" of his career. The 27-year-old confirmed at a press conference in his native Luxembourg today that an MRI scan yesterday had revealed that he had broken a vertebra when he crashed during in the individual time trial during last week's Critérium du Dauphiné. The extent of his injuries were not immediately apparent and he carried on racing for two days before abandoning on Saturday, but once back home, the pain continued to worsen.
Earlier this month, Schleck was presented with the maillot jaune for the 2010 Tour de France, which he was awarded after Alberto Contador was stripped of the title earlier this year. Schleck finished second to the Spaniard that year, as he had done 12 months earlier, and in last year's Tour was runner-up to Cadel Evans. Brother Frank completed last year's podium and will presumably be sole team leader in the Tour.
Eve before that crash in the Dauphiné there had been question marks over Schleck's fitness and commitment earlier in the race, amid reports that he and Frank have fallen out with team manager Johan Bruyneel, giving rise to speculation over how those issues would affect his performance in the Tour; that is something to which we will never know the answer.
Schleck hopes to return in time for the Olympic Games at the end of July and is now targeting the Vuelta - a race that should see him go head to head with Contador, who returns from his ban in August, a potential showdown that will no doubt be welcomed by organisers Unipublic.