For the first time since his comeback to cycling last September, Stefan Schumacher has been victorious. Sprinting to the win in stage one of the Vuelta Asturias in Spain, the Miche-Guerciotti rider is now leading the general classification of the five-day event.
"It's unbelievable, like a dream come true," Schumacher told Radsport News. "I have been working towards this day for so long."
The German had been suspended for two years following positive doping controls at the 2008 Tour de France and Beijing Olympics, and returned to racing with Italian team Miche at the end of last year. At the Giro del Trentino this spring, Schumacher was already in good form but could not perform properly. "I suffered badly from allergies there," the 29-year-old explained.
In Spain however, Schumacher was able to take full advantage of his potential as he was part of the final group of 24 riders. "The last climb before the finish was really hard, but I was able to get over it amongst the first ten," he said. In the sprint, Schumacher counted on his team and particularly on teammate Constantino Zaballa, who lives in Asturias.
"He told me that there was a sharp bend before the finish, where you have to be in first position if you want to win." Zaballa led out the sprint and the two Miche riders crossed the line in first and second place.
Now, Schumacher wants to defend his jersey as long as possible. A race against the clock over 14 kilometres coming up on Friday afternoon particularly appeals to the strong time triallist, who will need to gain some time over the climbers there. "There are still three very difficult stages to come. I will try to keep the jersey as long as possible," he said.