Andy Raymond Schleck is a former pro-cyclist, a Luxembourg native, the 2010 Tour de France winner and has cycling running in his family. Currently, he functions as a chairman of the ŠKODA Tour de Luxembourg and as an ambassador at the Tour de France’s ŠKODA Hospitality Programme so we reached out to him to get both his insider and expert overview of this year’s Le Grande Boucle.
Van Aert’s windswept victory
With today’s rest day after stage 10, the whole Tour de France crowd takes a deep breath and recapitulates, makes preparations, and ponders the future. Especially after the extremely strong crosswinds threw a little wrench in the works for several teams. As we mentioned before, the Jumbo-Visma team already made a strong appearance this season and stage 10 added a fourth Le Tour stage win under their belts, as Wout Van Aert edged out Elia Viviani. In our last recap, Andy didn’t think that, albeit successful so far, the team does have a chance for the GC but Steven Kruijswik is fourth on the general classification right now and apparently on the roll. So, how about now?
“Well, I think Steven Kruijswik is their main guy for the general classification so I believe the team will focus on his result for the end of the Tour but I also don’t think that the team will jump right ahead. I think they’re meant to win one or more stages from this point until Paris because of how they did so far, no one expected them to do so well,” commented Andy, adding that the team’s progress is one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 Tour for him.
The successful soloist
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) soloed to a sensational victory in a gruelling stage 8. De Gendt had been part of the day’s early breakaway and managed to hold off the attacking GC leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) who finished ahead of the other main contenders. According to Andy, this De Gendt’s feat didn’t catch him off guard and he’s confident there’s more in store.
“I wasn’t surprised by his performance because I’ve known him for a long time and what he did the other day was really, really amazing. He’s probably the only one in the peloton who can do that. So, for me, personally, it wasn’t a big surprise and I’m happy that we’ve seen a breakaway going for the finish for so far and for so long.
Additionally, Andy noted that he doesn’t consider this to be a one-time thing for De Gendt. “I think we will see more of him in this Tour because he wants to win more than just one stage. I think he will be comfortable tomorrow [stage 11] when there will be more breakaways so we’ll see more victories like this one.”
Movistar’s questionable tactics
After their impressive Giro d’Italia victory, the team was given the benefit of doubt for selecting all of their GC co-leaders for one Grand Tour but, as it turned out, the worries were justified. Several of their domestiques were called off from Nairo Quintana in the front group and relocated to the chasing Mikel Landa instead – who then crashed, unfortunately. Quintana did just fine for himself but in case he got into trouble, he would have no teammates to look after him. But Andy doesn’t think their strategy should be judged so harshly.
“You see, there was nothing they could really do about it. Landa was in the back, Quintana in the front where he really needed to do just one thing – to hang in there with the best guys of the peloton. He did so very well yesterday, didn’t lose any time and I really think he’s here to win the Tour, not to finish second, so the [team’s] leader position in the Tour is quite clear.”
“I think there was maybe a misunderstanding about the tactics but Quintana, the leader, was in front and did well, so all is good,” Andy elaborated.
Treacherous winds mixed up the score
To end on a personal note, Andy shared with us one more observation, one that made him a bit regretful.
“The Tour de France is finished for Pinot and Fuglsang as they lost too much time and it’s quite sad. To see GC riders losing time on a stage for a reason they were not prepared for, like the strong wind in this case, it a sad sight, really.”
Stay tuned for more Andy Schleck commentary!