By Daniel Benson in Alpe d'Huez
A day in the Alps at the 2008 Tour de France wouldn't be the same without a long-distance break by Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner). For the second day in a row the former yellow jersey-wearing stage winner chased down a select group of Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rémy Di Gregorio (Française des Jeux) and Peter Velits (Team Milram) at 15km to make the day's early break. The four worked tirelessly and by the foot of the Galibier, the peloton's deficit was 5'45, with Schumacher claiming the coveted "Souvenir Henri Desgrande" at the top of the col.
However, on the next ascent, the Col de la Croix, the German's strength began to sap and he was quickly dropped and caught. "I'd taken too much liquid on board during the climb and I kept on throwing up," he said after the stage.
As CSC-Saxo Bank-led peloton started to reel him in and his companions surged on ahead, Schumacher was quickly swallowed up and spat out the back, forcing him to chase on the descent before Alpe d'Huez. Unfortunately, this effort was beyond him, and he finished 43rd, 18'52 down on stage winner Carlos Sastre (CSC - Saxo Bank).
"It was important that we defended the mountains jersey in case guys like Voekler and Chavanel tried to get away. It's always good to have someone in the front group too as it's always easier to drop back instead of chase," he said. "However one moment I was feeling really good, and the next, my batteries were almost empty. I would have liked to get back on and help Berni [Bernhard Kohl], but I had nothing left
After his exploits in the last two stages, Schumacher will now try to recover before his last objective: the time trial. Having won the race's first and only test against the clock he'll be marked out as a contender for another win. "I'll try and recover for a few days before the time trial. Then I'll be off to Beijing for the Olympic time trial there."