“The beauty of cycling is that you can do it anywhere in the world,” Andy Schleck replied when asked what are his favourite cycling locations. He continued, “I believe I rode everywhere in the world, on every continent and on a lot of different venues. And I can’t say I really found a bad cycling location. There are good ones and there are very good ones.”
Where to go for a cycling training camp?
“I really like Mallorca, Spain,” Andy said. He recommends it especially from February to March because the weather is beautiful and you won’t see a lot of cars. The roads are also in great condition for cycling. But the main attraction is the amount of cyclists riding across the island during that time period. There’s a great cycling community and you will have a chance to meet a lot of like-minded people.
What are the most memorable stages of your career?
The number one cycling location goes to the 18th stage if 2011 Tour de France. “It’s not my favourite just because I won it. I believe it may be one of the toughest stages in Tour’s history. We went over 2000 m of elevation three times in one stage – Col Agnel, Col d’Izoard, and Col du Galibier. Stages like that aren’t in the Tour every year,” said Andy. But he added with a smirk that you would have to be quite in shape to try that one as a non-professional cyclist. His second favourite cycling location is the 17th stage of 2010 Tour that finished with a summit of Tourmalet. “It was a tough day. It was rainy, foggy, and cold all day. Experiencing that kind of weather while crossing the Pyrenees is what hell feels like to me,” Andy described it.
What’s the best place for a cycling vacation?
“You can have a lifetime experience going to the south of France and doing all the mythic climbs like Tourmalet, Galibier, or Mt. Ventoux which are not that far apart,” says Andy. He adds that you have to go in the summer to experience the mountains on a bike. But if you want to go to Provence it’s best to avoid the middle of summer because it’s overrun by tourists and there’s a lot of traffic on the roads.
What’s the most beautiful route?
“There’s one route that I always recommend to people who go cycling in France. It includes one big climb which is Mt. Ventoux. To me, that’s one of the most beautiful climbs. It is a very hard climb but if you stand on top of that mountain it doesn’t matter what your average speed was, I guarantee it will feel like the proudest moment in your life,” said Andy. He then described that this route starts with a 20 km climb from Bédoin to the top of Mt. Ventoux. You then take the same route down but take a left turn after about 7 km in Chalet Reynard and do a whole loop through the stunning Gorges de la Nesque to Sault. And from there you go back to Bédoin completing an 85 km route.
Andy also mentioned an interesting route in his home country. “I live in Luxemburg which has a big cycling history. I like to take people for bike rides here because of the quality of the roads and because you can do a 40 km loop here and travel through 4 countries – Luxemburg, Belgium, France, and Germany. You can experience four different landscapes, road signs, and mentalities in that one ride. You can also ride through the beautiful Ardennes forrest and see a lot of old castles.”
How do you feel about urban cycling?
Andy admits that he hasn’t done much urban cycling when he was a professional cyclist. It was only recently that he got into it but he couldn’t hide his enthusiasm. “I discovered the joy of urban cycling only after I retired from professional cycling. It was new to me to ride just for the fun and pleasure of it. I also discovered at the age of 35 what it means to ride your bike to work! It feels good to start your day that way. I live outside of the city so when I have meetings, I sometimes take an e-bike too because I don’t want to arrive all sweaty in the summertime. I promote urban cycling as much as I can because I believe it’s the best way to get around in a city. It’s the fastest and most efficient, and at the same time you do something to combat climate change. I believe it’s the future.”