Freeman Cebu Sports

What's eating the Schlecks?

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Philippine Star

Congratulations to Jan Rene Mier for taking stage 10 of the recently concluded LBC Ronda Pilipinas. According to my good friend Engr. Art Lambo, the unofficial resident oral historian of Philippine cycling, the 19y0’s win was the first for a Cebuano since Gregorio Gabato of Guadalupe, Cebu City, won a Stage 9 in the 1990 Marlboro Tour. Jan-jan is the son of Rene Mier, the multi-medalled cyclist that represented the country in the 1981 World Championships in Czechoslovakia.

Two weeks ago, Andy Schleck was given the Yellow Jersey and the 2011 Tour de France crown after Alberto Contador, last year’s top finisher, was disqualified due to a doping conviction. It’s not exactly a proud moment for Andy who I’m sure would like to win the Tour on the road, not given by somebody on a piece of paper.

But would this be the only way that this native of Luxemburg, and the younger brother of another cycling star, Frank, get to win the Tour?

Because of their exceptional climbing abilities, Andy and Frank Schleck are perennial Tour contenders but poor time trial skills, fragile psychology, bad bicycle handling (for a top pro) and wanting race tactics are weighing them down.

But this year is a different year. With just 21 days to go before the Tour, Andy and Frank are not at par with their rivals in terms of preparation. Last month, Frank, who had a poor season, quit the Girod’Italia, to the frustration of his team director, Johann Bruyneel. Andy, on the other hand, also quit the Criterium Dauphine Libere last Saturday. He was at 129th place, 30min behind Tour favorites Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans. The Dauphine is used as a tune up event in the Tour.

It must be frustrating for Bruyneel, who guided Lance Armstrong to 7 Tour wins and another for Contador. The Belgian never had a problem with LA or Contador leading to the Tour. Bruyneel’s frustration boiled over when he told the media a few weeks ago that the only rider on his team, Radioshack-Leopard, who is a shoo-in for the Tour team, is Fabian Cancellara.

But Bruyneel is no Phil Jackson, and therefore, the drama seems to have no end. I guess the only way that this will come to a joyful end is for Andy to win the Tour otherwise, team Radioshack-Leopard will simply implode. The team is simply too strong on paper not to have the results that they are capable of.

Will Andy and Frank be ready June 30? If I base my answer in their past performances, I say yes, they will be ready. But will Andy be “ready-to-‘defend’-his crown”,no I don’t think so. He has shown no improvement in the fields that he is lacking. In fact, with his current form, I see that he has a larger hole to climb out than in the previous years.

Finally, Tuesday is Philippine Independence Day. I don’t know about you but I’ve never really felt this holiday in my heart where it should be. For me, it’s just another day to spend time at home. Last year, I suggested that we celebrate this holiday after classes have opened even if it means starting classes a week or two early. This way, the new generation can understand that Independence Day doesn’t mean their last day at the mall. I am suggesting it again today. THE FREEMAN

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