Andy Schleck out of Tour de France
LONDON -- The 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck pulled out of this year's race due to a spine injury he suffered during the Criterium du Dauphine last week, but hopes to recover in time to compete at the London Olympics.
Schleck confirmed his withdrawal from cycling's blue ribbon race at a news conference in Luxembourg Wednesday, a few hours after his parents told The Associated Press he would not be able to ride for at least five weeks.
Schleck said he found out on Tuesday that he'll have to miss the Tour after undergoing an MRI that revealed the full extent of his injury.
"My world fell apart," Schleck said. "I won't win the Tour de France, I won't even be in it. But now I have to look forward. I hope to be back for the Olympics."
Schleck's father told the AP in a phone interview earlier on Wednesday that his son likely will miss the Olympic race as well.
"This is a very bad year, the Tour was his primary objective," said Johny Schleck, the cyclist's father, who is also a former professional rider, adding that his son will have to rest for three weeks.
"If he can ride again after that, he won't have enough time to get ready for the Olympics," he said.
The men's Olympic race will take place July 28, less than a week after the Tour ends on the Champs Elysees. The three-week Tour starts June 30 in Liege, Belgium.
Schleck initially finished second in the 2010 Tour. He was awarded the title earlier this year after Alberto Contador was disqualified for doping.
Schleck is one of cycling's strongest climbers. He abandoned the Dauphine race during the sixth stage, due to injuries he suffered in a crash two days before. His team initially said he suffered bruises on his right side and had an extremely sore rib.
According Tortsen Gerich, a doctor who spoke to reporters on Wednesday, Schleck's injury should heal within four to six weeks.
"There is a fracture on his pelvis, but it's not dislocated," Gerich said. "He cannot ride a bike, because the fracture is exactly where you have the pressure from the saddle."
Schleck has been considered one of the main contenders for the yellow jersey at the start of the season. He recently raised doubts about his ability to win the Tour due to injuries.
In March, he dropped out of Paris-Nice because of illness and was treated for knee problems in May.
"His morale is zero at the moment," Johny Schleck said. "He wanted to win the Tour, although it would have been difficult this year."
Schleck's withdrawal, and Contador's absence through his doping suspension, now mean that the three-week race will be deprived of the world's two best climbers.
The two rivals could lock horns in August during the Vuelta in Spain, where Schleck is planning to compete. He also is expected to line up at the world championships in September.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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