Klöden: Quiet, methodical and looking to July — VeloNews.com

  • Klöden: Quiet, methodical and looking to July
    German quietly on track for Tour
    By Andrew Hood

    Andreas Klöden lines up Tuesday for the start of the Circuit de la Sarthe as one of the top favorites for victory.

    The Astana rider, winner of the French race in 2007, revealed he’s on some strong early season form with a stage victory and third-place overall at Tirreno-Adriatico last month and fifth in his season debut at the Volta ao Algarve in February.

    For the veteran German, races like Sarthe and next month’s Tour de Romandie (which he won in 2008) are all part of a plan to arrive at the Tour de France in the best possible condition.

    “I will only look to the Tour. Everything I do now is to be ready for the Tour,” Klöden told VeloNews in an interview earlier this season. “I want to arrive at the Tour at 110 percent condition, then we’ll see.”

    The 34-year-old Klöden is a two-time Tour runner-up (in 2004 and 2006), yet remains somewhat of an enigma heading toward July.

    Discussion of who will lead Astana will fill forums and chat rooms for weeks, yet he doesn’t like to join speculation on who will lead the stacked Astana team.

    “Everyone wants to talk about the Tour now; it’s too far away,” Klöden insists. “We have a lot of options. I think we have a very good team for the Tour, if everyone is in good condition and healthy. We want to win the Tour de France.”

    Despite breaking his collarbone in a crash at the Vuelta a Castilla y León in March, Lance Armstrong is expected to share leadership duties with 2007 winner Alberto Contador.

    Klöden and three-time Tour of California champ Levi Leipheimer are expected to line up as second options.

    So far, Klöden seems happy with his role at Astana.

    With Contador and Armstrong soaking up most of the media attention, the sometimes-shy German all-rounder is content to stand out of the limelight and quietly do his job.

    As for any struggles within the team, he says that’s the invention of over-imaginative journalists.

    “I don’t feel it. I like the Spanish riders and I like the American riders,” he says. “I have no problem with anyone.”

    Klöden says it’s been interesting spending time with former nemesis Armstrong, who beat Klöden by more than six minutes en route to his sixth of seven Tour victories in 2004.

    Klöden stayed on with Astana following the arrival of ex-Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel and said the entrance of Armstrong just makes it that much more interesting to be on the team.

    “It was a big surprise for me when (Armstrong) came back. I saw Lance only from the outside before. I was never on the same team and I only saw him in the races,” he said. “Now I am one year with Johan Bruyneel, he’s a very professional manager. I can learn from both Johan and Lance. It’s a good thing. I hope we have a good Tour and have fun.”

    Klöden says he expects Armstrong to be ready “110 percent” for the Tour and will use the Giro to ride into fighting shape.

    Concerning Contador, Klöden says he’s equally impressed with the young Spanish rider’s qualities.

    “He’s very motivated for every race. He’s a very good rider and in the time trial, he’s getting better every race. It’s nice to see him ride well,” he said. “He’s a very big talent. Some champions take it a little bit easy in the beginning of the season, but Alberto wants to win every race. It’s nice to be around. It’s good for the team.”

    As for Klöden, he’s not giving too much away about his own chances.

    “Sometimes you have very big riders in one team and then you have some bad luck with crashes, you never know,” he said. “I do my job here. I like cycling and racing. I know what I can do, we’ll see in the future.”

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    “Sometimes you have very big riders in one team and then you have some bad luck with crashes, you never know,” he said. “I do my job here. I like cycling and racing. I know what I can do, we’ll see in the future.”

    Славный парень Андреас Кледен! очень позитивное интервью!

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