Andy Schleck blasts team

MONTPELLIER, France -- Andy Schleck is upset with the board members of his Tour de France team for cutting ties with older brother Frank Schleck.

But the 2010 Tour de France champion is withholding further comment because if he says what he really thinks "they might use it against me and fire me as well."

Andy Schleck, who rides for RadioShack Leopard Trek, spoke outside the team bus before Friday's stage. A day earlier, key sponsor Leopard SA said it will not "renew the collaboration" with Frank Schleck after his ban for doping expires.

Andy Schleck, a 28-year-old climbing specialist and the RadioShack team leader, said he was "sad and disappointed" by the decision.

Frank Schleck, 33, is the older half of Luxembourg's top cycling duo. He's sitting out this Tour because of a one-year suspension for a positive test for a diuretic in last year's race. He had been hoping to ride in the Spanish Vuelta after the ban runs out.

The younger Schleck spoke to his brother, who he said was also disappointed. He reiterated he would never ride against Frank.

Asked how he could stay motivated after such a team decision, Andy Schleck said: "We cannot blame the whole team, this is coming from the board of the team. It's for sure not the guys, not the sport directors sitting in the bus. It's coming from the team board."

"I can't understand this decision after 11 months, telling us `we support you'," he said. "We know it had nothing to do with doping. Everybody knows that it had nothing to do with doping. And after 11 months, to kick him out of the team like that, it's not nice."

At last year's Tour, Frank Schleck tested positive for xipamide -- a substance that the World Anti-Doping Agency describes as "more susceptible to a credible, nondoping explanation." Bans for such substances are often shorter, and athletes have a better chance of proving they did not intend to consume it or enhance performance.

Cycling's image has been battered by doping scandals in recent years. Last year, Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles and later acknowledged doping. Andy Schleck inherited the 2010 Tour title only after Spain's Alberto Contador lost it in a doping case.

Andy Schleck was 34th overall, 34 seconds behind leader Daryl Impey of South Africa as the seventh stage began.