Frank Schleck pleased with return to cycling

ROGER VAUGHAN
Last updated 04:14 22/01/2014

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A day that could have ended in disaster instead showed that Frank Schleck has come to the Tour Down Under ready to race.

The Luxembourg cycling star finished 18th in stage one and was encouraged by his form.

This is Schleck's comeback race after serving a 12-month doping suspension.

It is his first visit to the Adelaide Tour.

Stage one in the Barossa was going well for Schleck until he suffered a mechanical problem at the foot of the Menglers Hill climb.

Given the hill was only 15km from the finish at Angaston in the Barossa, Schleck had seconds to put the chain back on his bike or lose touch with the front pack.

"I am very happy I made it back to the front group," he said.

"At the base of the climb, I got caught up behind a crash.

"Then I jumped back on my bike and I had to put my chain back on.

"I hit the panic button at that point, but I was able to get back to the group."

Schleck finished in a large group that crossed the line four seconds behind stage winner Simon Gerrans.

After all his dramas since failing a doping test during the 2012 Tour de France, Schleck was rapt to be back in action.

"It's good to pin a race number on your back again and, when you do that, you want to win," he said.

"It was harder than I thought today, but it was nice to race.

"Everyone is fresh, just waiting for that last climb."

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- AAP

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