T-Mobile domestique Stephan Schreck didn't make it to the Tour de France this year, but he did ride the World's road race for Germany. He ended up being a member of an escape group that got away during the second lap and stayed away for a long time.
"Before the race, we divided our team of nine riders into three groups, each of which was to be active in either the beginning, middle or end of the race," Schreck said. "Wegmann, Schumacher and Zabel were our men for the finale, and I belonged to the first group. It turned out that I got into the escape group on the second lap." After the group got away, "we rode the first lap full out. We quickly built up a few minutes between us and the field. The favoured nations, like Italy, all had riders in the group. That way, the stars could save themselves for the finale and our advantage grew up to 15 minutes. I thought, 'boy, what's going on here?'"
He never thought that the group would come through, he said. He expected the advantage to melt quickly in the second half of the race, "I just didn't know how long it would take." And when the group was caught by another group, it turned into a prickly situation for Schreck. "When a group of 20 caught us two laps before the finish, and there were no Germans in the group, it became rather critical for me. I was pretty tired but had to keep on trying to stay in the front."
Looking back, Schreck was not totally satisfied with his season. "My form for the classics came 13 days too late," he said. "In the summer, I was not included on the Tour team, which of course was disappointing." Actually, Schreck was nominated to the team after Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla were removed from it, but didn't get a chance to ride after the teams met and voted not to allow replacements for the riders suspended because of Operation Puerto.
His season still isn't over. He's going to ride the remaining three ProTour races, Züri Metzgete, Paris-Tours and Tour of Lombardy. "Then I'm looking forward to being able to spend more time with my family in the winter."