Stefan Schumacher of Team Gerolsteiner finished third in Sunday's Paris-Nice prologue, five seconds behind winner Thor Hushovd. Five seconds aren't much, but they are enough. "Of course it is a little irritating, when you are only five seconds back and know that maybe you didn't take one or the other curve with full risk," Schumacher said. But he held himself back a bit on the wet streets, especially since just before he started he saw team-mate Andrea Moletta return to the bus after crashing during his run. "That makes you automatically a bit more careful," the German said.
"I am very satisfied with the results," he continued. "I simply didn't really know how good my legs already are. But they were good. I hope it goes on like this. At least this kind of result gives you self-confidence."
His boss, team manager Hans-Michael Holczer, echoed the sentiments. "I can accept that. To be five seconds behind a specialist is really ok. In any case, Stefan gave notice that he is here."
Moletta finished next-to-last on the day, 1.16 behind the winner. The Italian caught the worst of the bad weather, strong winds and driving rains, and crashed on the 4.6 km course. "At first he was very shocked because he went down on his 'bad' leg," spokesman Mathias Wieland told Cyclingnews. "But he is fine, he only lost some skin." Moletta broke his right femur in last year's Milano-Sanremo.
The other German ProTour team, Team Milram, was also happy with the day's results. 24 year-old Andrey Grivko finished eighth, which gave him the young rider's jersey. "I am very happy with my top ten placement. That was a very good day for me," the Ukrainian said. "Everything went perfectly despite the wind and rain, and I will try to defend the young rider's jersey in the next few days."