There were some bad, but also some good news for German team Gerolsteiner this past Sunday. While Davide Rebellin lost his maillot jaune in the very last minute in the final stage of Paris-Nice, the team's Stefan Schumacher soared to a stage win at the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial, taking the leaders' jersey almost at the same time.
While the Italian Classics specialist was of course disappointed to have lost out against Alberto Contador (Discovery), he took the race outcome with a shrug: Rebellin knew that his team at the French stage race could not have possibly been as strong as the Spaniard's, and that Contador was by far the better climber on longer ascents - he was mentally prepared that this could happen.
Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer agreed. "There was nothing much to do," he said. "Contador was the strongest rider in the field. But Davide showed that he's a great rider - if somebody had told me before the race that he would get second, I would have happily betted on it!"
Holczer was still very content with the teams' results at Paris-Nice. "Second on GC, three days in Yellow, three days in the polkadot jersey with Heinrich Haussler," he listed. "The team rode flat out, giving its very everything."
Now, Gerolsteiner directeur sportif Christian Henn will try to do better on the other side of the Alps, where Stefan Schumacher is now in the position of defending a yellow jersey. "Stefan showed a great performance," he said in Civitanova Marche Alta. "We're enjoying the moment and will try to defend the jersey."
Just like Rebellin, Schumacher has only a slim lead in front of Andreas Klöden and Alexander Vinokourov (both Astana), with many more riders all within one minute on GC. With Monday's stage finishing on a mountaintop in San Giacomo Monti della Laga, the race is far from over and promises to be as exciting as the finale of Paris-Nice.