Pro rider Andy Schleck: "Cycling is the new golf"
Words by Nathan Irvine
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The former Tour de France champion talks middle-aged sports and his favourite places to cycle in the world.
Andy Schleck is one of those names that will come up in a tricky quiz. The ex-pro rider from Luxembourg is the answer to a piece of intriguing trivia. "Who finished second, but eventually won the 2010 Tour de France?" Andy Schleck is the answer.
Spanish rider Alberto Contador originally took the title, but was stripped of it in 2012 when found guilty of doping. Schleck was retroactively awarded the win and the rest is history.
At 31, Schleck should still be dominating the tour. But a crash in the 2014 Tour de France unfortunately curtailed a career that would've been trophy-laden.
Although his pro riding days are over, Andy Schleck is still in the cycling game. And his current role as Škoda Auto cycling ambassador he's spreading the good word about the sport and encouraging others to get involved. EDGAR managed to catch up with the great man to quiz him about his glittering career and how you can get into cycling.
Cycling for me is the new golf. People play golf to socialise on a different level than sitting in a meeting room or an office. Cycling has developed to become one of the most social sports out there.
Everyone can do it, and it can be done anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter what level you are in sport – it is all about being on a bike, having that freedom to connect with different people.
That’s what makes it so special - you ride and talk on a different level. You’re outside in the fresh air, it’s just a beautiful thing to do. And you meet people with a completely different perspectives.
Enjoy what you’re doing
Most people who start riding a bike do it as they get influenced by someone around them. I have a bike shop in Luxembourg - I advise my customers to start small. You can’t go from zero to pro overnight. For example, in the UAE, one loop is enough for a start. You don’t need to go for big routes like Al Qudra in Dubai or Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi. I say: go out on the weekend, ride your bike and enjoy!
Set yourself some goals
People tend to get bored of new hobbies very quickly, so I would advise to set realistic and achievable goals first. I grew up dreaming of the Tour de France, however, events like the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge powered by SKODA are just as important as the Gran Fondo (Italian long-distance race). Give yourself some targets for what you want to achieve, then it will make it easier to commit to making them happen.
Get the right gear
When buying your new gear, make sure you talk about your goals with the shop assistant as they will advise you on what you need and the correct position of siting on the bike. If you don’t sit well on it, you won’t enjoy it as much. Know what you’re buying and why you’re buying it. I could see that here in Dubai and the UAE, shops not only offer great bike equipment, but helpful insights as well, especially to the newbies.
Listen to your body
Cycling is a sport that does not damage your body. It doesn’t hurt your knees or joints – it’s a challenging sport, but it’s not damaging to your body.
Break the routine and challenge yourself
Take yourself out of your comfort zone. In today’s world, we can find ourselves trapped in a routine. If you challenge yourself, you will find new ways to enjoy other things around you. For example, at lunch time where you only need 15 minutes to eat, you can get together with your peers, challenge yourself and enjoy the outdoors by going for a bike ride in the middle of the day.
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