Team RadioShack-Leopard remains surprised by its owner’s decision yesterday to annul Fränk Schleck’s contract after a doping suspension.
“I don’t know what to tell you, we were waiting, but in the end [owner] Flavio Becca surprised us,” General Manager Luca Guercilena told Cycling Weekly. “We knew they were talking, but sincerely I thought they’d reach a solution. It was a surprise. A surprise.”
Yesterday, RadioShack issued a press release that effectively annulled Schleck’s contract. It was due to continue through 2014.
It read, “Leopard wishes Fränk Schleck a successful continuation of his career.”
It likely stemmed from the Luxembourger’s failed anti-doping test for diuretic Xipamide in last year’s Tour de France. His national federation ruled in January that he “had not ingested the substance intentionally” and reduced the standard two-year suspension to one year.
“I can’t understand the board’s decision after 11 months of them saying, ‘We support you, we support you.’ The UCI and everyone agreed it did not have to do with doping,” his brother Andy told waiting journalists this morning at the Tour de France.
“I think there were other things behind it that didn’t have to do with the doping suspension, or taking anything.”
Becca started the team centred on the Schlecks and Fabian Cancellara in 2011, but reportedly fell foul with them over the last year.
On June 26, he announced he struck a deal to sell the team’s first division licence to Trek. The bike manufacturer takes over next year and wants Fränk Schleck back in the team.
Guercilena told Cycling Weekly that he was planning to race him in the Tour de Wallonie and Vuelta a España. Becca nixed that idea yesterday.
“As it is now, the situation is ridiculous. It’s that way now, we don’t have much input with the Luxembourg board, it’s a company,” Guercilena added.
“It’ll be hard for him to find a team now, mid-season for six months. I could understand if he signs for one for this year and for next year. I’d be sorry to see it happen, but I can understand.”
The Schlecks have always ridden together and claimed podium spots in the Tour de France. Andy, after Alberto Contador’s doping case, claimed the 2010 title.
Andy explained this morning, “I will not ride in another team with Fränk.”
He answered other questions in French and his native language before starting the seventh stage to Albi. Tomorrow the race enters the high mountains, where Schleck’s goal is to win a stage.
Schleck kept cool and focused on the race, wanting to talk about Fränk another time.
“If I tell you what I honestly think,” he added, “they might use it against me and fire me as well.”