The Tour de France is too risky according to overall favourites, Fränk and Andy Schleck. They complained today at the finish in Pinerolo, Italy, about the closing descents of the last two stages.

“Once again it’s dangerous,” said Andy Schleck. “It’s not really necessary to put a downhill like that again today.”

Schleck talked to Cycling Weekly outside the Leopard-Trek team bus in Pinerolo, west of Turin. He just finished the 17th stage of the Tour, the second consecutive one with a downhill finish.

He lost 1-09 minutes in Gap yesterday to defending champion Alberto Contador and nearly lost time again on the descent of the Pramartino today. Contador attacked repeatedly on the Pramartino climb and moved free on the descent.

Riders crashed on the descent yesterday and today. Today, overall leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) overshot a corner and Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun) lost control of his bike three times.

Frenchman Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) crashed near the same point on the Col de Manse yesterday where Joseba Beloki suffered a career-ending crash in 2003. Lance Armstrong survived by famously riding through an open field.

“Everyone has families at home,” Andy Schleck told Cycling Weekly yesterday. “A finish like this should not be allowed.”

Leopard lost its rider Wouter Weylandt in a crash during the Giro d’Italia on May 9. He crashed on a descent to Rapallo, hit his head and died.

The Giro d’Italia, partly due to concerns over another incident, cancelled the Monte Crostis descent later in race.

Cycling Weekly asked Leopard-Trek’s team manager, Kim Andersen if his team planned to complain to Tour organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

“I don’t know,” Andersen said.

“When we are behind in the team car, we are too far away and our riders can lose the race because we can’t reach them in time. It’s not fair.”

Leopard’s press officer later confirmed that the team would not lodge an official complaint. 

Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen attacked on the climb and rode the descent solo to win today. He had reconnoitred the climb and descent after the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

“At the end of the day, everybody has known for nearly a year that that was there,” Sky’s team principal, David Brailsford told Cycling Weekly. “If you’re worried about it, get out there and go up and down it a few times to make it safe. That’s what we did and that’s why he was so confident.”

The Schleck brothers previewed the descent twice during a May training camp. Riis confirmed to Cycling Weekly that Contador had also previewed this stage and the upcoming Alpine days.

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  • Ken Evans

    Compared to some of the roads of the early Tours,
    all the roads in this years event are superb !

    This year in the Giro the route went on loose gravel surfaces.

    When riders are tired they start to complain,
    whatever the race, whatever the conditions.

  • Mark Nicholls

    The Schleks are renonwned for being poor descenders. They should go out and practice until they get better – it’s like any other sport, you have to practice what you’re good at to get even stronger, and what you’re not good at to lessen your weak points. Obviously, the Schlecks think that the races should be made to suit them.

    If they don’t like it, why bother cycling. I’m a cyclist and will always look for ways to improve. Both in technique and fitness.

  • John Medlock

    Paul Sherwin in his TV commentary said that “a descent is as dangerous as you want to make it”, it’s up to the riders, if you can’t descend fast or if you are not confident, then don’t go fast, use the brakes – that’s what they are for.

  • Don

    It’s called a RACE! Maybe selling burgers at the local fast food joint would be safer! Would you like fries with that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Simon E

    It’s a RACE, not a Bikeability class! They do have brakes on their bikes, don’t they? Any MTBers reading about this must be laughing.

  • stepdot

    Should they take the dangerous climbs out too, after all it was on a climb that Tom Simpson died. Then look at the team time trials, a touch of wheels at those speeds could be nasty. What about wet roads, could be slippery. Alternatively, the Schleks could learn to descend or ride within their ability, no one makes them descend beyond their limits, it is not the road which is dangerous it is their bike handling.

  • Steven Kelly

    Cycling is inherently dangerous at +40MPH irrelevant of the gradient, up, down or flat. Practising descents would make you better at it and reduce the danger, if you watch riders who do well on descents you can see their knowledge and skills make a big difference, and if one guy can do it they all can. Like climbing and sprinting, descending is a skill/discipline within cycling, perhaps they need decent coaches.

  • Thag

    There are four alternatives that the Schleck brothers and others with similar abilities/opinions have:-

    1. Learn to descend better.
    2. If unsure of the risk ride down slowly and safely.
    3. If the risk is apparently too severe, walk down.
    4. Give up pro cycling.

    Tactics for all eventualities.

  • mikeyg

    Andy Schleck is a wuss and his brother Frank should wear a dress…. Descending, Climbing, Sprinting are all part of the sport & have their inherent dangers if you don’t take care!

  • katie

    What a pair if whingers they are, funny how you do not hear Cav and co claiming that the mountain stages should not be allowed.
    Perhaps if the crash prone Schlecks learned some bike handling skills they would not get dropped.

  • J Irving

    Ah, isn’t the pinnacle of elite cycling! Sorry but some people just need to harden up. Schlecks included.
    Practise, practise practise….
    I’ve had the privilege of meeting the Schlecks 2009 tour in Avignon and have been a supporter for some time but they are not doing themselves any favours at this year’s tour.
    Leasson needs to be taken from Eddy Boss… Nice one!

  • Bob Bolton

    The Tour de France is a race – arguably the ultimate endurance race. Competitors are amongst the best cyclists on the planet competing over the same course. The winner is usually the strongest rider but he has to show not just strength but skill and courage and sometimes benefit from a little luck here and there. Did I miss the Schleck boys complaining about the descents last October when the route was announced? It’s time for them to man up and stop making excuses. Take a leaf out of Voeklers book. He isn’t a GC contender but he rides like one and is a credit to the yellow jersey. Gilbert showed up a deficiency in the brothers during the classics earlier this year – an early sign and their form has hardly been sparkling compared to previous years. The Tour is over 3000km but the Schlecks biggest challenge could be just a few centimetres between the ears. Conquer that and they could win the Tour. Come on boys stop moaning and get stuck in. You’re better than that.

  • norman bright

    I agree with all riders who say downhills are dangerous having boken my collar bone in an LVRC race three years ago-at the age of 74 I have been advised not to have an operation so the bone cannot be altered. As an amateur I did no more than lost a few weeks wages but a pro could lose his life and career or a season’s worth of contract. Few riders can descend even small hills e.g. Box Hill and females are dangerous. Rwo weeks ago I kept coming up to a van which kept braking- I was on my own-the oldest rider to ride London to Brighton and did all I could to avoid other riders who could not descend- in the event there were over 1,000 riders cf. Tde France far fewer. I descended mountains in australia and slovakia the key points are: number of cyclists, number of vehicles skills of riders. Even on a charity or sportive one encounters other riders. What stops motorcyclists infiltrating the tour e.g. Wiggins crash and the rider who wound up on barbed wire. If officials and journos do not ride bikes they make decisions based on lack of knowledge. corporations are less interested in riders than corporate clents -this was obvoius at the recent Nocturne where a youngster and a girl crashed but even riders who worked for teams were not allowed into the corporate area-to the suits we riders are no more than donkeys carry advertisments

  • Mathijs

    Come on Frank and Andy, this is cycling, not lawn bowls. It’s been demonstrated time and again both of you can’t decend or take a corner, so maybe at your next training camp get one of the boys to teach you how to go round a corner. 99% of the peleton can, so why not you guys?

  • samuel

    perhaps schleck is luxembourgish for the sour grapes?