Andy Schleck pulls out of Tour de France
Andy Schleck on Wednesday described his withdrawal from this year's Tour de France due to injuries suffered in last week's Criterium du Dauphine race as "the biggest disappointment" of his career.
The 27-year-old has been ruled out after being diagnosed with a fractured pelvis and has now set his sights on competing at the London Olympics next month, as long as he is back to full fitness in time.
"Yesterday, I tried going riding for an hour in the rain but I realised straight away that it would be impossible," the 2010 Tour winner said at a press conference here.
"When I abandoned the Dauphine (on Saturday), I was in pain, but that was even worse. After that I knew that I could not go to the Tour.
"It is the biggest disappointment of my career. I would rather have finished last on the Tour than not be able to participate at all.
"I will need to be back to 100 percent before I can start riding again. I hope to be at the Olympics," Schleck continued, adding that he also hopes to take part in the Tour of Spain, the Road Race World Championships and the Tour of Lombardy.
He would have been a leading yellow jersey contender for the 98th edition of the Tour, which will begin in Liege, Belgium on June 30 and end in Paris on July 22.
The RadioShack climbing specialist, who has finished runner-up three times on the world's premier cycling event, had recently been crowned the 2010 champion following the disqualification of Spain's Alberto Contador for doping offences.
Schleck's joy at finally securing the yellow jersey was, however, tempered by the injuries he suffered in a crash last Thursday at the Criterium, an eight-day race which is a major tune-up for the Tour.
During a 53 km time trial a strong gust of wind literally picked Schleck and his bike up off the ground and dumped him at the side of the road.
Schleck continued, but complained of leg and back pain and despite beginning Saturday's sixth and penultimate stage he pulled out after 63 km.
"He couldn't pedal anymore," RadioShack sporting director Alain Gallopin told the race's official website.
"Since he crashed during the time trial, the whole right side of his body was hurting."
Schleck returned to Luxembourg on Saturday and underwent scans at the beginning of the week which revealed the extent of his injuries.
It will be the first time Schleck misses the race since he made his debut in 2008 with CSC. However it will be seen by many as the nadir to a season which has been one of his worst to date.
Schleck, 27, abandoned a number of top stage races, such as Paris-Nice, the Tour of Catalunya and the Dauphine, that would have been key to building his form for the Tour, and he has complained of ill health.
At the end of May he cut short a training camp on some key stages of the Tour de France to have treatment for three days at a clinic in Basle, Switzerland on a troublesome knee.
Schleck's older brother Frank, who finished third overall on last year's Tour, is currently racing the Tour of Switzerland and is likely to spearhead RadioShack's yellow jersey bid this summer.
The overall favourite, however, is Bradley Wiggins. He will aim to succeed Australia's Cadel Evans and become the first Briton to win the prestigious yellow jersey.