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Riders shocked by Schumacher win

German Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) grimaces

German Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) grimaces (Image credit: AFP)

By Shane Stokes in Cholet, France

Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) said that he rode tempo during yesterday's Tour de France time trial in Cholet, no doubt keen to chase his second stage win of the race on the following day. The Norwegian finished 116th in the test, 3'36" behind the winner Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner).

"It's still possible to win stages and so I had to control things today," he said. "It was very long. It was a stage for the big rouleurs today."

Hushovd, like several others, didn't expect Schumacher to beat world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC-Saxo Bank). "It is a surprise that Schumacher finished ahead of Cancellara, but he is a very good rider," he stated.

Team Columbia's George Hincapie echoed Hushovd's statement. Hincapie managed to crack the top 10 on the stage, with the American finishing in ninth place. "I am a little bit surprised by Schumacher, that is an awesome ride," he said. "But it is the Tour and anything is possible. As for me, I did what I could there."

Former Tour winner Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) had a solid-enough ride, being nine places further back in 18th spot. "I am satisfied with my time," he said after the stage. "The fight between Schumacher and Cancellara is not for us…Cancellara is the world time trial champion. I am content because I am close to the other riders for the general classification."

Pereiro's team leader and general classification favourite Alejandro Valverde was also happy with his efforts on the time trial. The Spanish rider seemed happy with his time, despite losing time on general classification to Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

"I am personally satisfied with my time," said Valverde. "It is true that Stefan Schumacher posted a great time, but for me the most important was not to lose time compared with the other favorites for the general classification and I achieved what I wanted to. The course was not totally flat and that was a good point for me but if you look at the stage classification, you can see that it was really a race for specialists, for powerful riders," added Valverde.

Compatriot Manuel Beltran (Liquigas) was 74th, biding his time until he gets to his ideal terrain. "I think my time trial was not bad for my condition - I am not a specialist there," he said. "I hope I go well in the mountains."

As regards his overall goal in the race, Beltran didn't want to set a specific target. "A stage win would be difficult, it is the Tour de France," he responded, when asked if that was what he was aiming for. "I think I will give my maximum to ride well, both for the team and for me."

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