By Gregor Brown
Stefan Schumacher confirmed his signature on a two-year contract with Team Quick Step for the coming two seasons on Thursday morning. The 27 year-old German, winner of both Tour de France time trial stages, will ride for Patrick Lefevere's team for 2009 and 2010.
"For me, as a Classics rider, it is a perfect team," said Schumacher to Cyclingnews this morning. "I am hot for the Spring Classics and Ardennes Classics, and I will have the best team for these races."
Schumacher leaves Team Gerolsteiner after its manager, Hans-Michael Holczer, was unable to find a replacement sponsor for the upcoming season. The move from a German to a Belgian team will help Schumacher take the next career step after three years with Gerolsteiner.
"There will be more pressure for these races because it is a Belgian team - they are more important for them and there is more publicity. I want to do it; I am ready for this step. I am really happy to be in this team."
Schumacher blossomed at Gerolsteiner, starting with his win in the 2006 Giro d'Italia. Other highlights include wins in the 2006 Eneco Tour, Tour de Pologne, 2007 Amstel Gold Race, third in the 2007 World Championships and a two-day spell in the maillot jaune at this year's Tour de France.
"I had good memories; it was my chance to break through, to win my first big races. The first big victory was the stage and jersey the Giro d'Italia - in Namur. Then I won the Amstel Gold Race; I really wanted to win one of those Classics. Then, at the last Tour we had a lot of fun - rooming with [Bernhard] Kohl. It is a pity the team can't go on."
Lefevere announced in a press release, "Over the past years he has proved to be an excellent all-round athlete able to stand out in the time trials and uphill climbs during both one-day races and the great stage races."
Lefevere has Paolo Bettini, a two-time World Champion, currently in his ranks. The Italian, who specialises in the Ardennes Classics, has not renewed his contract with Quick Step and is waiting until after the Worlds to decide if he will remain with the team or go elsewhere.