By Gregor Brown in Huy, Belgium
Germany's Stefan Schumacher is on the up despite a crash in Wednesday's Belgian Classic, Flèche Wallonne. The 26 year-old of Team Gerolsteiner, winner of last year's Amstel Gold Race, is determined to leave the Ardennes Classics week with a high grade.
A 15th-place finish in last weekend's Amstel Gold Race and a 19th-place yesterday in the 72nd Flèche Wallonne were less than what was expected from Schumacher coming into the week of racing known as the Ardennes Classics; however, he felt his form was going in the right direction for this Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"My form is going up," said a polite Schumacher to Cyclingnews after crossing the line in Huy, following yesterday's 199.5-kilometre race. "I think for Liège I will be really good. I am motivated."
He had a setback during the final fifty kilometres of the race that was won by Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen (High Road). "I had a crash and a lot of pain," he explained, soaked with rain and road debris from the day. "I don't know, first I thought it was the collarbone but ahh... no. It is okay – I think. It is only pain and nothing broken for sure."
The incident did not leave him in an ideal position to battle on the race-ending climb, Mur de Huy. "I think it was not my climb, I did not feel so good in the finale," Schumacher added. His Gerolsteiner team-mate and last year's winner, Davide Rebellin, battled at the sharp end of the group, managing sixth spot.
(For more on Schumacher read Schumacher under pressure at Amstel.)