Andy Schleck has adapted the Alfred P. Neuman "What me worry?" philosophy.
Yellow jersey contender Andy Schleck insists his Tour de France hopes remain intact despite suffering another injury setback less than a month out from the race. Schleck, a three-time runner-up in the world's premier cycling event, was last month awarded victory from the 2010 race following Alberto Contador's disqualification in the wake of a doping ban.
However the Luxemburger's plans for a top finish in the June 30-July 22 epic appeared to suffer a blow Saturday when he pulled out of the Criterium du Dauphine, an eight-day stage race considered a crucial tune-up for the Tour.
Schleck had crashed in the time trial Thursday when a strong gust of wind literally picked him and his bike up and dumped him at the side of the road, leaving him with back and leg pain. He bravely started the mountainous sixth stage from Saint-Alban-Leysse to Morzine on Saturday, but gave up after 63 kilometer
"This is a big disappointment," Schleck said in Morzine, according to a statement by his RadioShack team. "Today, from the start, already in the first two hundred metres I had pain in the right leg and the lower back. It just got worse. I was never suffering like this in a race. I couldn't use my right leg any more. There was no other option than to quit the race."
RadioShack team chief Johan Bruyneel, the man credited with helping Lance Armstrong to a record seven yellow jersey triumphs, admitted Schleck had no option but to quit. But the incident will do little to reinforce his relationship with Schleck and his older brother Frank, which has been shaky since the siblings' failure to live up to expectation since the start of the season.
Bruyneel admitted: "We could see it already at the breakfast table that Andy was really hurt. He also didn't sleep very well. In the race he was suffering even when the peloton was going slowly. There was definitely a problem. He really didn't have the power to use the pedals. It was impossible for him to finish the stage."
Schleck's chances of winning this year's Tour were compromised last October when the route was announced: the race features two long time trials, leaving defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia and Briton Bradley Wiggins as the main favourites.
Bruyneel's comments will do little to make Schleck feel better.
"Andy's situation is not a good sign for his Tour preparation, especially if you look now at the level of his competitors," added the Belgian. "For the moment there is not much we can do. It is a difficult situation."
Schleck, however, insists he is taking positives from his latest setback. "Of course I missed half of the stage today and the stage of tomorrow," he said. "In bad things I always try to find the good things. The good thing is that I have done six stages. Some people will say, 'it is only three weeks till the Tour', but you can also say it is 'still' three weeks to the start in Liege.
"You can do a lot in three weeks. That is my strength. I've shown it in the last years. I was not good in the Tour de Suisse but I was in the Tour de France. I won't stop believing in it. I've worked hard for this."