In 2006, Stefan Schumacher showed that he had the time trialing and climbing ability to be a potential new German contender for the Grand Tours. But on Sunday, he also showed that he is hard enough to take a classic. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé caught up with Schumacher on the Cauberg in Valkenburg, Netherlands after the Gerolsteiner star won Amstel Gold.
Amstel Gold was once again granted a magnificent winner in Stefan Schumacher. "For sure this is the greatest win of my career," the 25 year-old German from Ostfildern-Ruit (near Stuttgart) said at the post-race press conference on top of the Cauberg.
It was on that very climb that Schumacher first tried to make his mark on the race; going 20 seconds clear. But he then suffered a problem with his gears. "I hesitated thinking if I would use my big or small chainring and eventually decided to drop my chain to the small but that didn't work out well." The rider lost some of his momentum and was only 700 metres from the finish. "I was in such a good position to win on the Cauberg I thought I blew it. Luckily, I got the chain back on the big chainring again."
It seems that if you want to win the Amstel Gold Race you need a disturbed preparation shortly before the Dutch classic. Last year's winner Fränk Schleck crashed hard in the Basque country and couldn't train for a week leading up to the race. Schumacher had a similar problem. "I crashed on my knee during the last stage in the Basque country ending up with a big wound," he said. "I needed 12 stitches and the next day my knee was twice as thick. I had to rest for four days while I couldn't do anything else than taking care of the injury. On Wednesday, I started training again and that went well.
Schumacher says he wasn't sure how much fitness he might have lost in the down time. " I thought I was maybe at 90 or 95 percent but it was clearly 100 percent," Schumacher laughed. "Cycling sometimes is such a crazy sport. When you're 100 percent things don't work out but when you're not 100 percent things can turn out great."
Read the entire Stefan Schumacher interview here.