The president of the Luxembourg cycling federation, the FSCL, has said he is seriously worried about Andy Schleck’s condition, echoing concerns recently voiced by the 27-year-old’s manager at RadioShack-Leopard, Luca Guercilena.
Schleck, who has not completed a stage race since April last year, pulled out of last week’s Tour du Haut Var and is currently training on Mallorca as he aims to get back to full fitness ahead of the Ardennes Classics in two months’ time.
However, FSCL president Jean Regenwetter told Wort.lu that he had doubts about the rider’s ability to return to top form.
"At the moment it isn’t looking good,” he said. “The evidence is that Andy has not worked or trained enough during the winter.
“Andy has let his training slip away from him over the past two years. Unless he gets his act together quickly, he will have to write off the 2013 season.”
While Regenwetter acknowledged Schleck’s innate abilities, he said that alone was not enough to succeed.
“Andy has a powerful engine, but it needs to be used and tested to its limits. If a top athlete’s muscles don’t get used, they fall asleep,” he explained.
Schleck has struggled to return to full fitness ever since fracturing his sacrum in a crash during the Critérium du Dauphiné last June, an injury that kept him out of the Tour de France.
In his first race back, the Tour of Beijing at the end of last season, Schleck abandoned after struggling on climbs.
Regenwetter held out some hope however that Schleck can still turn things around.
“It’s not too late, there is time for Andy to get his former strength back ahead of the Tour de France, and he’s someone who can suddenly turn the switch on when his big goal for the season approaches.”
He cautioned though that the men who are likely to be his chief rivals in France this summer had already shown that they were in better shape.
“Contador, Froome and Rodriguez have already demonstrated they are in their normal form,” he reflected. “Andy is lagging behind, and that is never a good sign.
Earlier this month, after Schleck abandoned the Tour Méditerranéen citing the respiratory problems that would also keep him out of the Tour du Haut Var, team manager Guercilana had raised questions about Schleck’s mental preparation.
The rider’s state of mind won’t have been helped at the one-year ban handed down to his brother Fränk who tested positive for a banned diuretic during last year’s Tour de France, but Regenwetter insisted that Schleck’s problems ran deeper.
"His brother’s ban certainly hasn’t helped Andy. To be honest, Andy needed to train even before the verdict was announced. But there’s always hope. Andy can turn things around," he concluded.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.