Tour Guide Flashback – Leopard Pages (2011)
RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. As part of the team pages we are also offering ‘Flashbacks’ to the 2011 Guide to help provide a look at the progress/changes to the teams between the 98th and 99th Tours de France.
In this flashback we look at the commentary on the Leopard team from the 2011 Tour preview.
Flashback: 2011 – Leopard Team Pages
Andy, the title awaits… now go forth and win it!
A common perception is that Andy Schleck would have won the Tour de France in 2010 had it not been for him dropping a chain shortly after attacking Alberto Contador during stage 15 as the GC leaders neared the top of the Port de Balès. It was an incident that actually cost him 28 seconds to conduct the repair and even longer if you count the time it took to get going again. Considering the Luxembourger lost the Tour by 39 seconds, it is fair to say things could have been different.
In a race that spans three weeks, a handful of seconds can seem like a lifetime for those rare few who seriously believe they can win the yellow jersey. So blame the chain if you like, but also think about the prologue in Rotterdam. Alberto was sixth there, 27 seconds behind the TT guru of this generation – and another Leopard-Trek recruit – Fabian Cancellara. Andy was 122nd on day one, losing 1’09” to his team-mate and 42” to the Spaniard who won the Tour in 2007 and 2009.
So it’s equally fair to say Andy would have won if he was better in a time trial. Or that he’d have won if he had his brother Fränk alongside him when the chain came off – or any other time when he was having a crisis… but it doesn’t matter now. That race is over. Analysis of particular moments are for dinner party discussions or debate on forum pages. The result still isn’t truly certain. For all we know, Andy will yet become the winner of the 2010 Tour. We wait for the CAS to conduct its hearings and offer a judgement.
In the meantime, Andy has undergone a significant change between his third and fourth participations in the Tour. With 24 others, he signed on to be part of an exciting new project for 2011. Since the start of the year, the roster has been reduced. The death of Wouter Weylandt affected everyone in cycling. It was a horrible accident and a tragic story with no happy end. We will mourn his loss for a long time yet and Leopard-Trek will represent more than just a group of cyclists who had came together with the common objective of being the best team in the world during its debut season.
This is a team packed with talent. There are riders for every possible race: from Classics, to time trials, to Grand Tours… it’s all there for the taking. With the Schleck brothers on board it didn’t take long for other big stars to agree to join this upstart formation managed by the former PR man for CSC and Sky. O’Grady, Fuglsang and Voigt were among the early defections from Saxo Bank. Cancellara was the last to confirm but it was never a surprise. Still, his signature put Leopard-Trek on top of the UCI rankings for its first year in the peloton.
Andy knows how to win. He also knows why he lost. And now he’s ready to make up for the few faux pas he made in the past. Twice he’s been runner-up, now he’s won stages and had a taste of what it’s like to wear the yellow jersey. It’s a prize he can take with a little help from his friends.
by Rob Arnold