I have a confession to make: I have a crush on Andy Schleck. Mock me if you must. But before you fall over yourself trying to think of ways to make fun of me, allow me to explain this schoolgirl crush.
It was Andy who got me into cycling. I remember watching bits of the 2009 Tour when I was in France, specifically the Mont Ventoux Stage, riding up through the forest. I had no idea what I was watching, and it wasn’t until last year that I realized that the cute boy with the funny name riding up with Lance Armstrong was Andy Schleck. And once I realized he was from Luxembourg, the deal was sealed. You see, both of my great grandparents on my mom’s side were from Luxembourg, and while I realize it is an American thing to be obsessed with lineage, it does count for something in my book. When the Tour ended, my obsession with Andy did not. So I watched the Eneco Tour and couldn’t figure out a) why Andy wasn’t riding with Saxo Bank and b) why there were all these Saxo Bank riders who I’d never heard of! Thus began my true foray into understand the pro cycling peloton.
Andy’s not perfect and criticisms leveled at him do have some merit. It’s true that he didn’t handle his departure from Saxo Bank very well. But Bjarne isn’t a completely innocent victim- how long did he have to be in talks with Contador to make a signing announcement soon after the Tour was over?
It’s true the launch of his new team was done in a very self-satisfied, ridiculous fashion. A team presentation full of scarves and circus acts? Unnecessary. Trying to maintain an aura of mystic by slowly “unveiling” a “secret” team roster? Unnecessary.
But, in spite of all these truths, I still harbor a crush on Andy. His skinny little climbers body, his artfully disheveled hair that sticks up through his helmet vents, his close relationship with his brother, his ability to speak multiple languages all endear him to me. Although I was angry he seemed to forgive Contador far too easily for what I viewed as an unforgettable action, I admires his willingness to let a grudge go. And truthfully, had it not been for Andy, I probably couldn’t have been bothered to watch the Eneco Tour or figure out how this whole racing thing worked.