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Previously intending to take part in Paris-Nice, the lingering effects of the crash Frank Schleck suffered last month in the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol means that the Luxembourg rider has now been forced to abandon that goal.
Schleck was one of the worst affected in a fall towards the end of the opening 121.3 kilometre stage. While he was able to reach the finish line, he was over seven minutes and 35 seconds back and was unable to continue in the afternoon stage 1b time trial due to his injuries.
Fears that he had suffered a fracture proved unfounded, but he was diagnosed with a deep muscular injury and told to rest.
He has done that, but hopes he would be ready in time for Paris-Nice have not worked out.
“I am recovering, but it has not gone as fast as I had hoped. It’s still painful, especially walking; on the bike it actually feels better,” he said. “So I am able to train a couple hours on the road now, but obviously this is not enough to be ready for a race like Paris-Nice.”
That race will begin next Sunday, March 8.
“I am obviously very disappointed; when I crashed, even though it was super painful, I always thought I would be at the next race,” he continued. “It has been a frustrating injury and a slow healing process, but it is still early season and I will be back. I should be fine for GP Nobili.”
The latter event is on March 19 and gives him an extra 11 days to recover.
The team will instead rely on the young talent Bob Jungels as one of its leaders, with Riccardo Zoidl, Giacomo Nizzolo, Gert Steegmans, Kristof Vandewalle, Gregory Rast, Eugenio Alafaci, and Marco Coledon also taking part.
Schleck finished third in the 2011 Tour de France, standing on the podium with Cadel Evans and his brother Andy Schleck, and is a past winner of the Amstel Gold Race, the Tour de Suisse, the Tour of Luxembourg and Critérium International.
He is one of the team’s leaders for this season.
His brother Andy retired in 2014 due to injuries from a crash sustained in last year’s Tour de France.