RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK rider Andy Schleck suffers from a fracture in the sacral body (segment S3) due to his crash in last Thursday’s time trial of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Schleck will be out for four to six weeks and will not be able to start in the Tour de France, the race in which he was set to start as one of the favorites.
At a press conference in La Maison des Sports in Luxembourg, Andy Schleck, accompanied by his personal medical doctor Charles Delagardelle and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Torsten Gerich from the Centre Hospitalier of Luxembourg, explained how a strong gust of wind picked his bike up off the ground during the time trial of June 7. Schleck continued the stage and finished with pain on Friday’s stage, but pulled out after 63 K in the Saturday stage.
“This is the biggest disappointment in my life,” said the three-time Tour de France podium finisher. “The Tour is the most important race. I feel sad for my dedicated teammates. I would have been ready to perform. I wanted to give an answer to my critics. As a bike rider you never stop believing in goals, in dreams. That’s why I also continued on the bike after my crash. I wanted to go on as I had the Tour in my head. I was always thinking that it would become better. Riders are hard. I remember Cadel Evans finishing the Tour once with broken ribs but in the end I really had to quit the race. In my career I’ve broken my collar bone twice but this is the most painful thing I’ve ever had so far.”
“It was immediately clear that Andy suffered a severe injury,” said Dr. Gerich. “A regular X-ray didn’t give us any information, but a MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) revealed the fracture in segment S3 of the sacral body (scan images on www.radioshacknissantrek.com). This is a bone bruise. There is no dislocation, it will not compromise the stability of the pelvis, but it hurts terribly. We were more than surprised to see that Andy still raced with it.”
“I was there when Andy came to the car in that Saturday stage and it was obvious that there was something wrong,” said Team manager Johan Bruyneel. “Andy suffered a lot but put the pain aside. He knew he had to go through the Dauphiné to be ready for the Tour de France. The fact that he went on for two stages really showed that he was determined to be as good as possible at the start of the Tour. Andy was supposed to be our designated leader for the Tour de France. This is a big blow for the morale of the entire team.”
The injury should take 4 to 6 weeks to heal. Andy hopes to resume his training rides earlier than that. “In three weeks, I hope to ride,” continued Andy Schleck. “I need to stay fit. I am now at my Tour de France weight and I don’t want to gain weight as I am still ambitious for the end of the season. I hope to race the Olympics and I will go for the win in the Tour of Spain. Yesterday evening, two hours after I heard the verdict, I already studied the course of the Vuelta… The course suits me very well.”
Johan Bruyneel added: “Andy is a Grand Tour rider. The Vuelta course is better suited to him than the Tour de France course this year. There are a lot of mountaintop finishes and less time trial kilometers in the Spanish tour.”
“I will find there my friend Alberto Contador,” smiled Andy Schleck. “It’s going to be a nice race there. I am more motivated than ever before. After the Vuelta we also have the World Championships in Valkenburg. That profile suits me too, just as Lombardy does. After all my bad luck of this year I will come back stronger. I am 27 years old. I still have a lot of years in front of me. You haven’t heard the last of me yet.”