Andy Schleck returned to the classics with a vengeance, hitting his knee on a pole in the Amstel Gold Race and retiring with more than 100km of racing to go. “I couldn’t have asked for more,” an ebullient Schleck told reporters outside the Trek Factory Team bus.
“It’s getting harder and harder to come up with plausible excuses for my terrible riding,” he said with a smile. “The contusions on my knee are palpable, real. No one can deny these boo-boos. Check it out.” Schleck extended his right knee, which sported a large, 2-inch scrape partially covered by two Band-Aids.
“This hurts!” added Schleck. “Ow!”
Team manager Louis Pasteur was equally pleased with the performance. “You can’t underestimate the power of an actual physical injury for purposes of extending his contract another year or two without him actually having to finish a race. We were on pins and needles during his emotional phase of the last two years, you know, having to convince our sponsors that he was riding poorly because he couldn’t be with his brother, he was ‘feeling poopy,’ etc. But now that we have an actual physical injury, everyone can understand that as a reason for not winning.
“We believe that with this race Andy will be completely back on top of his game of not being on top of his game,” added Pasteur when asked about Schleck’s participation in Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, two races that are regarded as among the most difficult in which to properly place the French accent grave.
“It’s even possible that he will ride neither race, yet still manage to collect his paycheck. This is a dream come true, even in a country like Luxembourg, where it is a basic human right to have everything given to you whether you deserve it or not.
“Our only concern,” added Pasteur, “is his brother Fränk. We were disturbed to see him actually finish Amstel in the top thirty. His 24th placing could lead to expectations that without drugs he can perform well, and more ominously, that after several million dollars’ in contract fees, he is capable of finishing a major race. This would be catastrophic for Andy’s recovery to the pinnacle of not recovering.”
When it was pointed out that the younger Schleck had not finished a major race since 2011, Pasteur agreed. “We all know he has the potential to never again finish a big race. He showed us a glimpse of that quitterish spirit in 2011 and has confirmed it every single year since. With some patience and a bit of luck, 2014 will be another strong year for him in terms of abject failure despite doing everything he was told not to do.”
Shleck was heard to howl “Ouchie!” and “Yowie!” and to ask for another Puffy Luvvy tissue as reporters moved on to another team bus.
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