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Schumacher soldiers on

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) passes spectators

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) passes spectators (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Birthday-boy reflects on Gerdemann's yellow-run

By Gregor Brown in Albi

Stefan Schumacher is taking the Tour de France day-by-day but is not exactly having the success that he had earlier this spring when he rocketed to the finish in Maastricht to win the Amstel Gold Race. While celebrating his 26th birthday with a cold and wet time trial east of Albi during stage 13, he believes that he still has his chances in a Tour de France that has already seen German successes.

"I was sick in the beginning and the prologue was so bad," Schumacher explained to Cyclingnews how his Tour has not gone to plan. "I was first concentrated on the prologue and then the stage Pozzato won [stage five to Auton]. I was really focused on that stage but I had problems in the decent [of Croix de la Libération]. I had to brake and I had a crash; I could not make it to the front and I had no chance to fight for the win. I was unsatisfied after the stage, and that prologue was not my best prologue.

His mind reflected back to the warm Grand Départ in London. My goal was to be at the front of the prologue and fight for the jersey in the first week but we have more time...I think I will get my chance to win a stage." Instead, that Saturday went in favour of Swiss Cancellara who then went on to wear the jersey for seven days, even anticipating the sprint in Compiègne.

France's weather heated up in the Alps but it transitioned with the race towards the Pyrénées and now it is expected to be cold for the first Pyrenean stage to Plateau de Beille (forecasted to be 16°C at the finish). "The weather changes are not good for me," Schumacher reflected on the previous week's hot Alpine heat. "During the hot days, it is crazy and sometime I get problems."

The stage to Le Grand-Bornand was difficult for Schumacher while compatriot Linus Gerdemann went on to take the stage and maillot jaune. "I had really good legs and I was going really well towards the top and then 'puff' I was out the back. I could not go. It was an explosion. I think after a few days in the heat I get better and better."

In addition to the Amstel Gold, Schumacher enjoyed a successful 2005 with wins in the Giro d'Italia and the Eneco Tour. He does not mind dropping out of the spotlight in the Tour and reckons it is better for an escape attempt. He had wanted to have a go in stage 12 but ended the day in 59th after the peloton caught the early escape of Fédrigo and Txurruka.

He still receives respect in the peloton. "If you win some races then you get more respect from others, it is normal I think. It is the same for everyone but it is not special." Further, he is please with the media's attention. "We need the media, it is good for us. The only problem is when I have a bad day and then I have to explain what was wrong and it does not make it so fun. But, hey, it is part of the job."

"It was crazy and I am really happy for him," he said of Gerdemann's performance in the first stage of the Alpines. He has known the rider since their pre-professional days. "It is really good for us [as Germans]... I am happy for him and for us. Okay, Team Gerolsteiner also has to win something but I am really happy for Gerdemann, for Germany and T-Mobile it is a great, great success.

"I don't know if he is 'the future,'" continued Schumacher. "In the next years he will for sure be a rider for the classification ... We will see how he goes. It was a great Tour for him" even if he is now out of the yellow. "He does not have any pressure now.

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