Q&A With Leopard-Trek’s Manager
Before the start of the stage to Plateau-de-Beille, Rob Arnold spoke with the manager of Leopard-Trek to try and get an inside perspective of how the Schleck brothers are likely to race the 14th stage. Brian Nygaard admits that Cadel Evans is the most dangerous rival to the two Luxembourgers…
“I have to be quite broad with my appraisal of the race to date. Our guys are going well, we saw that on the first big mountain stage. They were able to put in a good attack and isolate some of the other favorites. We didn’t really see any major time gaps [at Luz Ardiden] but Cadel is definitely looking very, very strong. At this point, I wouldn’t discount Alberto because all it takes is one bad day from one of our guys and then the time gains could be major.
“It’s all quite open.”
Will it be a case of waiting for the final climb, or do you think some of the GC guys might try to go earlier than the ascent to Plateau de Beille?
“I’m not sure,” replied Nygaard from Leopard-Trek. “I’m not sure that Cadel even has to attack because he in quite a comfortable position right now, he’s near the yellow jersey and he also has a very good time trial. He’s in a very good situation.
“Contador, on the other hand, has to think about attacking. It might be that he wants to go early but it’s hard to say. There’s still 25km between the last descent and the start of the final climb. So it would be a very risky strategy.”
It’s the time trial that you have already got to start thinking about…
“Yes, exactly. Cadel is looking very strong right now and so far he’s shown no weakness really. Okay, he’s the obvious candidate for the yellow jersey today if he just holds it all together but the race is still very open.”
You have the luxury of sending Andy and Fränk on the one-two attacks… that’s a luxury that the other teams don’t have… what’s the tactic that you want to employ for the two brothers?
“It’s all about having the strength of two. All the other favourites can’t cover every attack, not even if they’re having a really good day. So the obvious way for us to try and gain some time is to send them on the attack like they did the other day.”
Between Fränk and Andy, who do you think is going better?
“I don’t we’ve seen any indication of one being better than the other so far. It’s a question of, at one point, the other favourites will have to focus on one because if they try to cover both it’s too much.
“They’re both looking very strong which is very good for us.”
It’s like 2008 when CSC had Carlos Sastre as the wild-card, isn’t it? A lot of people are watching Andy as the big favorite but Fränk looks like he’s in great form.
“If Fränk had finished the Tour last year, I believe it would have been the same situation. It’s great to have two guys like we have.”