Yellow jersey contender Frank Schleck hinted at a change of tack in the coming days after losing over two minutes to his rivals on the crash-marred Tour de France sixth stage Friday. The Luxembourger, who finished third overall last year behind younger brother Andy and Australian champion Cadel Evans, was one of dozens of riders delayed by a massive pile-up 26 km from the end of the 205 km sixth stage from Epernay to Metz. Climbing specialist Schleck finished 2min 05sec behind all the yellow jersey jersey favorites including Evans and British rival Bradley Wiggins. He is now 2:43 off the pace of race leader and RadioShack teammate Fabian Cancellara, who is not an overall victory contender, but trails Wiggins and Evans by 2:36 and 2:26 respectively.
Already handicapped by his comparative lack of power in the long time trials, of which there are two this year, Schleck said he may have to change his strategy. "I was feeling good and was confident for the coming days," said Schleck. "Now we have to assess the damage and perhaps change our strategy." While RadioShack may look to German veteran Andreas Kloden to shoulder their bid - he is only 19secs off Cancellara's pace, is a solid climber and a strong time triallist - Schleck considers himself lucky given the number of injuries sustained in the peloton. "I've got a sore hip, a sore elbow and I've got pain in the shoulder that I injured at the Giro," said Schleck, who had to pull out of the Giro d'Italia last month. "I've also got a pain in the ribs when I breathe. But I consider myself lucky."
Schleck's brother Andy, the 2010 champion, d forfeit for the Tour just before the start after suffering injuries in the Criterium du Dauphine race, a crucial tune-up for the three-week epic. Saturday's stage over 199 km from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles is the first summit finish of the race.