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Czech Cycling Tour: Schumacher third on the last stage

Stefan Schumacher finished off Czech Cycling Tour with a third place on the stage to Dolany. He was also the highest ranked CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider in general classification, as he took 8th. 

I attacked with about 25 kilometers to go, at the end of the hill, which was located on the circuit. Unfortunately nobody joined me. I decided to give it a try and go solo. I consider myself as a good time trialist and today I had some sort of individual time trial. It was not any easy one, since the headwind was blowing on most of the lap. I was caught by 4 riders, with 5 kilometers remaining, on a cobblestone section. At that point my legs were not as fresh as legs of other attackers and I was unable to outsprint them in the finale. I started the sprint in first position and I was the first one to take the last corner. Stybar overtook me, grabbed the win and Muhlberger, who was on his wheel, claimed second. I had to settle for third – Stefan Schumacher said afterwards.

The last couple of days were very demanding, mostly due to the hot weather. Today it was 33-34 degrees and it was the cooler day of the race. On other days the temperatures would reach almost 40 degrees.

I can be satisfied with my form, but not with the result we have accomplished. We made a mistake on stage 2, when crosswinds broke peloton apart and we missed the decisive move. But in the next two days we were riding very well as a team. Yesterday we made a selection with 50-60 kilometers to go, preparing the ground for Jan Hirt’s attack. Today the team did the same for me. We can be proud of what we’ve showcased in the last two stages. Everyone was extremely motivated and it was such a nice feeling to race with these teammates. Both me and Jan were caught in the final kilometers, but this is cycling. You have to keep trying and attacking.

The final stage, from Olomouc to Dolany was 145 kilometers long and it featured nine, 9-kilometer laps, with one hill, in the second half of the distance. After very lively beginning, an 8-man group broke clear and established the break of the day. It included Joey Van Rhee (Jo Piels), Gert-Jan Bosman (Jo Piels), Uri Martins (Amore e Vita – Selle SMP), Davide Ballerini (Unieuro Wilier Trevigiani), Martin Hunal (Whirlpool-Author), Stef Krul (Metec – TKH), Maximilian Kuen (Amplatz – BMC) and Kamil Gradek (Active Jet).

The peloton let them gain 3:30 of advantage and had everything under control. On the circuits around Dolany, CCC Sprandi Polkowice took over the lead in the big group and decreased the gap to around 40 seconds, with 35 kilometers to go.

Few kilometers later the escape was over and was caught by a reduced to only 30 people, bunch. Jan Hirt, Nikolay Mihaylov and Stefan Schumacher were all there and the German decided to try a solo move. He attacked and gained 30-second advantage over the chasers.

On the last lap he was joined in the front by Zdenek Stybar, Pieter Serry (both Etixx-Quick Step), Gregor Muhlberger (Bora-Argon 18) and Lennard Kamna (Team Stolting). They caught him inside the final 5 kilometers and the stage was decided in a sprint from that group. Stybar was the fastest and took the win. Despite aggressive ride in the finale and a lot of energy spent on the solo break, Schumacher managed to finish 3rd, slightly behind Muhblerger who got 2nd.

Race leader, Petr Vakoc (Etixx-Quick Step) came in 16 seconds behind the winner, in 7th place, and claimed the GC victory. He bested Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Stybar, who moved up from 4th to 3rd. Schumacher was the best “rider in orange” overall in this event, as he finished 8th in GC.