Tour de France - Schleck counting on fans' support

Fri, 01 Jul 11:01:00 2011

Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, the Tour de France runner-up in 2009 and 2010, is counting on the support of fans at the roadside to help him beat Alberto Contador at last.

- 0

"Some riders don't need the fans but personally I need to have the public and the people behind me. It gives me extra motivation," Schleck told a news conference on the eve of the Tour on Friday.

Spaniard Contador was booed and whistled during the team presentation at the Puy du Fou theme park on Thursday, apparently because of his positive dope test for clenbuterol in last year's Tour, which he won with a 39-second lead over Schleck.

While the three-times Tour champion was cleared by the Spanish Federation, he faces an appeal hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in August.

Schleck and his brother Frank, who will be his closest aide in the three-week race, called for fans to respect Contador.

"It was not nice for Alberto or his team, while you will always have fans supporting some riders and not others," Andy, 26, said.

"Supporters should support and not boo," said Frank. "The legal procedure is underway and should be respected. Alberto has a right to race."

German Jens Voigt, the oldest man in the peloton at 39, said he was confident that Schleck fans would not hassle Contador during the Tour, which starts from the Vendee region on Saturday.

"I'm not at all afraid. For sure people are smart enough. The situation is not optimal and everybody wished for a decision (on Contador's case) to be made before the Tour. But there is no chance of anything stupid happening," said Voigt, who will be one of Andy Schleck's bodyguards in the Leopard Trek team.

The animosity towards Contador was also fuelled by an incident in last year's Tour when the Spaniard attacked after Schleck's chain had come off on a climb, a move widely considered unfair.

Contador earned 39 seconds in the process, which was exactly the time gap between the two at the finish in Paris.

"Last year was last year. It's completely over as far as I'm concerned and I just hope nothing happens this year," Schleck said.

One of the major differences between 2010 and this year is that the Luxembourg rider left his former team Saxo Bank - who then hired Contador - to form the Leopard Trek team with experienced riders such as Voigt, Swiss Fabian Cancellara, Australian Stuart O'Grady and good climbers such as Jakob Fuglsang and Maxime Monfort.

"Everything is just perfect with this team. Much better than ever before," Schleck said.


Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account