By Bjorn Haake in Pla de Beret
German Stefan Schumacher of Team Gerolsteiner has one last goal this season, the World Championships in Varese. Like last year, when he finished third at the road race in Stuttgart, he uses the Vuelta a España as his build-up race. The relaxed atmosphere has an added advantage, but a busy season is showing its sign.
His racing schedule left him a bit frazzled. "I don't know how many riders there are who did the Classics, the Tour and the Olympics," he said to Cyclingnews. Then he spotted a rider who had a similar programme. "Maybe this gentleman over there," he added with a smile. He pointed to Alejandro Valverde, who arrived at the start line.
Schumacher was quick to add that he wouldn't trade the Olympic experience for a better race schedule. "It is the dream of every athlete to be at the Olympics. It was great to be in the Olympic Village and see some other faces, too."
His racing didn't go to well in Beijing, with the climate one reason he under-performed. The Olympic experience made up for his performance. "With the exception of those two cycling races the Olympic experience was great," he laughed.
One of the problems was that he never had any rest. "After the Tour it is usually a time to relax a bit. But this year it was just immediate stress again, with preparing for Beijing."
It is reason enough for him to take some active rest in Spain. "It really doesn't matter where I finish here. In the stage to La Naturlandia I immediately went into the gruppetto. Maybe there will be a chance to get into a break, but it would be one day that I specifically target." Otherwise, he is more concerned of getting the kilometres in and hammer out one more terrific ride this season in Varese.