RadioShack-Leopard rider Andy Schleck has been told by team owner Flavio Becca to get his act together following claims made by a French MP that he had spotted the 27-year-old in an extremely inebriated state at a hotel at Munich airport earlier this week. The team’s directeur sportif Kim Andersen has leapt to Schleck’s defence, strongly refuting the allegation.
The MP, Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, who lives in Germany and is one of 11 members of France’s National Assembly elected by French citizens living abroad, wrote on his Facebook page of having spotted Schleck “completely drunk” at an airport hotel in Munich, where the rider would have been changing planes on his way home to Luxembourg from Tirreno-Adriatico. He added that Schleck was unable to stand up.
Schleck, who has completed just one race since he suffered a fractured sacrum during the Critérium du Dauphiné in June last year, had abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday, early on in what proved to be a brutal Stage 6.
In recent weeks, concerns have been expressed about his fitness, attitude towards training and mental state by RadioShack-Leopard team manager Luca Guercilena, who replaced Johan Bruyneel last year.
Besides struggling to return to anything approaching peak physical condition following that enforced absence from the sport last year, he is also likely to have been affected by the one-year ban handed to his elder brother Fränk who tested positive for a diuretic during last year's Tour de France.
According to today's print edition of Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Becca, who has bankrolled the team since it was founded a little over three years ago as a Luxembourg-based outfit built around Andy and Fränk, has issued the younger Schleck brother with an ultimatum.
“I’m really not happy with what I’ve heard,” said the Italian-born businessman, whose parents moved to Luxembourg when he was a child.
“I’ve already told Andy more than once that I am not happy with his behaviour. I don’t consider that he is part of a team. Now I hope he has the courage to make an honest declaration, to clarify things well, and to start to become a serious athlete in pursuit of success.”
Those are strong words, but the team’s directeur sportif Kim Andersen, who is close to Schleck having previously worked with him at Saxo Bank, has disputed Le Borgn’s version of events, telling the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that the story is untrue.
While confirming that Schleck was at the hotel in question, Andersen insisted that according to the rider, the way in which he is alleged to have behaved “is simply not true,” and that he had “no reason to doubt” him.
“I'm tired of the fact that such a ridiculous story can run around the world,” he added.
It’s not the first time that Schleck has found himself in the spotlight as a result of allegations of drinking.
During the 2009 Vuelta, he and then Saxo Bank team mate Stuart O’Grady were thrown off the race by team manager Bjarne Riis, who had caught them returning to the team hotel after enjoying a beer or two against team orders – just how late it was, and just how many beers they had downed, has always been a matter of dispute.
The pair’s breaking of team orders was possibly due to their being demob-happy at the prospect of leaving Riis’s notoriously tightly run ship – within weeks, O’Grady would be confirmed as following the Schleck brothers to their new team, then known as the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project.
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.