Another star from Luxembourg
By James Huang in Pau, France
A simple Sigma 1106 computer
The R3-SL is a familiar
site for CSC
The front end is bolstered
by Alpha Q's new GS-40 carbon fork.
Zipp has been a long-time
sponsor of the CSC team
Beefy bottom bracket areas
are a regular site
Team CSC-Saxo Bank comes into this year's Tour de France with a potent
three-pronged attack that includes perennial Grand Tour contender Carlos
Sastre as well as cycling's own dynamic duo, brothers Andy and Fränk
Schleck. As is often the case in these situations, the true leader of
the race would be determined when the riders hit the mountains.
Stage 10's tough finish up the Hautacam didn't completely resolve the
issue but likely reduced the number of candidates to two as Fränk put
forth a fantastic performance to finish third (and is now only one second
out of the race lead behind new leader Cadel Evans) and teammate Sastre
was less than two minutes behind. Andy wasn't to partake in the team's
celebrations that day, though, as he had a rough day and lost over 8
1/2 minutes to stage winner Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) by
the time he crossed the line.
The younger Schleck's role in the Tour will likely change from this
point but his choice of bicycle will almost certainly stay constant.
Save for stage 4's individual time trial, Andy has been rolling along
aboard one of CSC's now familiar-looking black-and-white Cervélos. Like
veteran Sastre, though, he (and Fränk) has opted for the more conventionally-shaped
(and slightly lighter) R3-SL over the SLC-SL of most of his teammates.
At just 1.86kg (6' 1") and 66kg (145.5lb), the R3-SL's smaller seat
stays apparently provide the lanky rider with a little more comfort
as the kilometers roll on.
Andy's bike is strictly team-issue elsewhere: road sponsor Alpha Q
provides its GS-40 fork, 3T supplies its Arx Team stem and Rotundo handlebar
(time trial bikes are fitted with 3T's more aerodynamic Funda Pro fork),
Vittoria tubulars are stretched over any number of Zipp carbon race
wheels and the Prologo Scratch TR saddle is fast becoming a peloton
Long-time sponsor FSA steps in with its
K-Force carbon seatpost and SL-K Light crankset, although it appeared
here with K-Force Light badging (Andy apparently favors standard 130mm
BCD chainrings instead of the K-Force Light's exclusively 110mm configuration).
As in the past, the rest of the bike is fitted with standard Shimano
Dura-Ace componentry although we should note that there wasn't a shred
of new-generation 7900 to be found among the squad. This should perhaps
come as no surprise, though, since Shimano isn't actually a team sponsor.
Instead, CSC-Saxo Bank prefers to purchase its Shimano bits in order
to maintain its relationships with FSA and Zipp. According to team mechanic
Alejandro Tullalbo, the team may switch to 7900 in the future but would
have to test it first.
Tullalbo also graces Andy's bike with a few tricks from his well-traveled
tool box. Ceramic bearings are fitted throughout and the derailleur
housing ferrules are drilled out for smoother operation. The latter
obviously has some negative impact on their longevity in wet conditions
versus Shimano's sealed units but Tullalbo loads the housing with heavy
oil and the cables and housing are changed frequently as it is, anyway.
This year's Tour de France still has a long way to go so it would be
a mistake to write Andy off completely at this stage of the game (stranger
things have happened). Even if 2008 doesn't turn out to be Andy's year,
though, the burgeoning rider probably shouldn't be too disappointed.
After all, he finished a brilliant second in the 2007 Giro d'Italia
(his first Grand Tour) and being just 22 years of age at the time also
captured the white jersey of best young rider on which Riccardo Riccò
had firmly set his sights.
Moreover, Andy's gifted riding has gone well noticed among in the sport
and even Fränk admits that he is the more talented of the brothers from
Luxembourg. With such enormous natural potential and the guidance of
his more seasoned teammates' wisdom, we've surely not seen the last
of Andy Schleck
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here