Leopard Trek want end to Contador saga

ANDY SCHLECK’S Leopard Trek team say they want to propel the two-time Tour de France runner-up to victory in cycling’s most prestigious bike race on the road, rather than in the courtroom.

Schleck, who finished second to Alberto Contador in each of the last two years, stands to benefit if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) opts to strip Contador of his 2010 Tour title following his positive test for clenbuterol last July.

The Spaniard, winner of the 2007, 2009 and 2010 Tours, maintains his innocence — insisting the adverse finding was a result of contaminated meat — and CAS will sit on the case in early August.

On the eve of the Tour, which begins in the Vendee region of western France today, Leopard Trek domestique Jens Voigt said: “Everybody wishes we had a solution before the start of the Tour.

“We want to win the Tour de France on the road.”

Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) was booed at Thursday’s official team presentation, but Voigt believes the Spaniard is not at risk of attack from spectators.

The German added: “They can yell or do whatever, but the supporters are fair enough and there’s no chance anything stupid will happen.”

Andy Schleck’s hopes of a first overall victory are to be boosted by the presence of his older brother, Frank, in the team.

The Leopard Trek team, who will make their Tour debut, was built around the siblings from Luxembourg with the goal of taking the yellow jersey in Paris on July 24.

Frank Schleck, who finished sixth in 2008 and fifth in 2009 but crashed out of the 2010 race, said: “We’re not here to beat Alberto, we’re here to win the Tour de France.”

Andy Schleck, who finished 39 seconds behind Contador last year, is confident of winning the maillot jaune.

He said: “I know when I’m ready. In the mountains I’m going to be up there going for victory.

“Everything’s set, the team is 100% and better than ever before for me and Frank. That’s the biggest advantage for me.

“Upon arriving in the mountains last year, there was Alberto and me.

“I do not mean that I would have won with Frank, but the race would have been different — there were two other possibilities. This may be our biggest advantage.”

Contador enters the Tour after victory in May’s Giro d’Italia and is aiming to become the first man since Marco Pantani to win those Grand Tours in the same year.

Frank Schleck hopes the Tour of Italy will have an impact on the Spaniard.

He said: “It was a hard Giro. I hope he’s tired from it.”

Contador’s narrow success in the 2010 Tour owed largely to his superiority against the clock over Andy Schleck, who conceded 42 seconds in the opening prologue in Rotterdam.

But Andy Schleck maintained his focus is on winning the Tour in the mountains and he believes the destination of the yellow jersey will be determined before the penultimate day’s 42.5-km individual time-trial in Grenoble. The 26-year-old said: “We have worked a lot on the time-trial since the end of the Tour last year.

“If I want to win the Tour, I need to train my strengths.

“I hope I’ve developed more on the climbs than the time-trial if I want to win the Tour.”

The 2011 Tour begins today with a 191km road stage from Passage du Gois to Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers.

Picture: Alberto Contador: Three-time winner of the Tour.

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