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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

An interview with Fränk Schleck, April 16, 2006

Schleck niet slecht

Having just turned 26, Luxembourg's 186 centimetre, 67 kilogram power bundle is in his sixth year as a professional. He possesses enormous talent as one of only a handful of riders with the ability to ride - and win - both Classics and tours. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé found out after Amstel Gold Race that this is one cyclist who's niet slecht (not bad), to say the least.

Fränk Schleck (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews: When did you start believing you could win this race?

Fränk Schleck: There was never time to think about that; obviously, I wasn't a big favourite and I thought the chasers would catch me. Arriving at the finish line, I couldn't believe that I would actually win the race. This is all like a dream to me because I've been chasing this big victory for over seven years now.

CN: You are the second Luxembourger since Marcel Ernzer in 1954 to win a real spring classic [Ernzer won Liège-Bastogne-Liège]; 52 years have passed since then - how does it feel?

FS: It was only since yesterday that I knew I could become the second Luxemburger to win a spring classic because a journalist called me to ask about that. That also makes it really special, I have to admit.

CN: Does this victory actually come as a surprise to you?

FS: It does come as a surprise, because I had a pretty serious fall in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco; for some moments I even lost consciousness. A terrible night in the hospital was the result.

CN: Who was the leader of the CSC team today?

FS: Karsten Kroon and I were the protected riders. Karsten was very motivated for this race; he was always attacking and forcing the others to work hard. That turned out well for me, of course.

CN: Was there a plan in the CSC team to win this race?

FS: Bjarne Riis always has a plan: he thinks a lot about the tactics and of course he knows this race very well. I can't tell you the details, but Karsten Kroon and I had to spare our energy as long as possible, making it possible to attack in the finale.

CN: What did you do after your crash in the Pais Vasco?

A beautiful solo victory
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

FS: With the focus on the Ardennes classics, I stayed in Spain. The three days after being in the hospital were really hard. The GP Primavera was the first race after my fall; I took it really easy there [where his team-mate Carlos Sastre won the race - ed.]. Afterwards, I tried to keep cool but it was really hard, particularly on the emotional front for me and my family. I'd like to thank them all, and also Bjarne [Riis].

CN: Will you start the coming races with a different attitude?

FS: After my fall, Bjarne [Riis] said that I couldn't have lost my form in two days. Apparently in cycling you need to keep believing in your chances. You always have to go for more, to grow as a rider. In the coming races, I will do everything to perform well, but maybe I'll ride in support of Kroon, Voigt or Basso. Ivan [Basso] will compete in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and we all know he's in the form of his life.

Team CSC wins Paris-Roubaix, a week later the Amstel Gold Race... next week there is another spring classic for sale [La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liège - Bastogne - Liège next Sunday]. We surely can win over there with CSC because we have the best team in the world. Those are not cheap words because I feel we're not just team-mates or colleagues. We call each other mid-week to meet up outside the cycling world. You don't see that very often in cycling.

See also: December 2005 interview - Flying high close to home

Other Talking Cycling Interviews