Cycling: Strong start to the Giro: Schachmann and the mission to win a stage

Cycling: Strong start to the Giro: Schachmann and the mission to win a stage

Maximilian Schachmann is back: The Berlin native narrowly failed to win the stage at the Giro at the start. A day later, favorite Tadej Pogacar shows his class.

For Maximilian Schachmann, second place at the start of the Giro d’Italia felt a bit like a defeat despite his impressive comeback on the big cycling stage. “I’m a little disappointed,” said Schachmann at Eurosport and almost seemed as if it was the most normal thing in the world after a long period of suffering to beat exceptional driver Tadej Pogacar.

The German professional cyclist left the top favorite behind in the final sprint; only the Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narvaez was a bit faster in the end. “The sprint was hard. Pogacar is lightning fast and Narvaez is also very fast,” said Schachmann.

Schachmann had already won a stage of the Tour of Italy in 2018. Now the professional from the top German team Bora-hansgrohe could almost have ticked the box for a stage win at the start of the 107th edition of the Giro. This is what his team clearly intended for him on the three-week tour. “The role is good, but I still know what a mammoth task it is to win a stage in a Grand Tour,” he told the German Press Agency shortly before the start of the Giro. “I have to end up in the breakaway group on the right day with a good day of my own,” added the 30-year-old.

Fall doesn’t stop Pogacar from winning

In fact, this day came sooner than expected. “It’s a good start,” said Enrico Gasparotto, sporting director of Schachmann’s team, to dpa. “But if you get so close to the most important jersey, then that’s all well and good, but you still don’t have the jersey.” Gasparotto had expected that the short but demanding section could suit Schachmann. “We already saw at the Tour of the Basque Country that Max has returned to his high level.”

On Saturday, Schachmann attacked in a well-tempered manner 16 kilometers from the finish in the northern Italian city of Turin and positioned himself in a promising group. Next to him is Pogacar, who wants to achieve the rare double of Giro and Tour de France victory this year. “We tried to control the stage, but unfortunately it wasn’t our day,” said the Slovenian.

On Sunday, however, Pogacar provided proof of his strength. When he first reached the mountain, he irresistibly pulled away from his competitors and was the first to arrive at the pilgrimage church of Oropa after 161 kilometers. Pogacar had a flat tire shortly before the climb and even fell. But a little later he rode almost effortlessly into the leader’s pink jersey. He was already 45 seconds ahead of the Brit Geraint Thomas and the Colombian Daniel Felipe Martinez.

The strong start by the experienced professional Schachmann shows that there is a lot in the Giro for the mountain-savvy rider, even if he was around two minutes behind high-flyer Pogacar on Sunday. Second place at the start should give him a boost; in the Basque Country he even had a chance of overall victory after the penultimate stage. In the end it came 13th.

Test of strength with top favorite Pogacar

For the professional, the Giro is the first participation in a Grand Tour race since 2022. Since that year, Schachmann, who had previously won the Paris-Nice tour twice, has been struggling with several health problems. These included various viral diseases that repeatedly slowed him down. “Of course it wasn’t an easy time for me. But for many people that’s part of their lives. I’m glad I got through it and have put it to rest,” said Schachmann.

The passionate showdown with Pogacar (25) in the sprint provided impressive evidence of this. According to many experts, it is almost certain that favorite Pogacar will lift the coveted “Trofeo Senza Fine” in Rome on May 26th, provided no falls or illnesses slow down the top star. “It’s unlikely that anyone here can beat him,” said Schachmann. “But we also saw at the last Tour de France races that he is not unbeatable,” he added. The Bora professional at least proved that right from the start.

Source: Stern

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