Andy Schleck content with quiet Tour buildup

Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:10pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - While arch-rival Alberto Contador was making headlines for the right and the wrong reasons, Andy Schleck spent a low-key season gearing up for the Tour de France.

Third place in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic in May has been the Luxembourg rider's sole major podium spot in 2011. The only other honor for the twice Tour runner-up was the best climber's jersey in the recent Tour of Switzerland.

"My whole season was built around the Tour. So far I have not had any problem and I hope it will last," said the 26-year-old climber, who lost to Contador by 39 seconds in France a year ago.

Schleck and Contador buried the hatchet last year after the Spaniard snatched the Tour yellow jersey when he ignored cycling etiquette after the Luxembourg rider was forced to stop because of a slipped chain on the 15th stage.

Contador passed him and gained a 39-second lead, provoking criticism from some riders who felt he should have waited for his rival.

"Alberto apologized and I forgave him," Schleck said earlier this season at the Criterium International, before adding: "I forgave him but I did not forget."

Their rivalry is further fueled by the fact that Contador now rides for the Saxo Bank team whose leader last year was Schleck.

Saxo Bank's cunning and experienced team manager Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour winner, knows the Luxembourg rider well and will have a score to settle with his former protege.

Frustrated by his narrow defeats in 2009 and 2010, Schleck left to form the Leopard Trek team with brother Frank and solid team mates such as time-trial world and Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara and experienced German Jens Voigt, both former Saxo Bank riders as well.   Continued...

<p>Leopard's team rider Andy Schleck of Luxembourg cycles to place second of the seventh stage of Tour de Suisse cycling race from from Vaduz in Liechtenstein to Davos in Switzerland and then finish in Serfaus in Austria June 17, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>