EIt was a small triumph among very special side effects. Professional cyclist Maximilian Schachmann had exchanged the jersey of the German champions for the yellow jersey of the front runner right at the first stage of the long-distance Paris – Nice trip. And he wore it to the end on Saturday. “It’s a great feeling to take the typical yellow jersey home with you. A dream come true, ”said Schachmann in the small ski resort of Valdeblore La Colmiane.
Many people were not witness to his joy. The stage was largely cordoned off. A safety cordon several hundred meters wide was placed between the spectator and the peloton at the start and finish. This is how the infection with the corona virus should be prevented. The drivers also refrained from taking selfies and signing autographs for the few spectators who still came.
Incomprehension because of implementation
It was a memorable tour. While numerous competitions were canceled all over Europe, the colorful peloton of professional cyclists ate their way through France. That sparked incomprehension. Seven teams decided to stay away from the start in Paris. The UAE team had their own positive corona case and was therefore in quarantine. Two other teams got out on the way, including the racing team of Cologne’s classic specialist Nils Politt.
“It was the only sporting event that ever took place. Everywhere else it was said to stay at home and avoid large crowds. But we were more than 100 drivers alone. And with the supervisors and companions, we certainly came to more than 1000 people. Among them were some who were at the race in the United Arab Emirates, where there have been positive cases. You just have to be careful. And that’s why we made the decision to leave, ”said Politt of the F.A.Z.
When he drove to the race the weekend before last, at least the situation in France itself wasn’t that critical. Restaurants and bars were still open. But day after day the race slid into an ever increasing exceptional situation. While spectators were initially allowed, race organizers ASO later had to mobilize new personnel for barriers and also borrow more grids than expected. The unrest among the drivers also increased. “At the beginning, something was joked when someone coughed in the race. But that became less and less over the days, ”said professional cyclist Nico Denz. He relied on it: “If someone has symptoms, he will definitely not start.” Race doctor Olivier Aubry noted a few cases with suspicious symptoms: “But there was not a single positive corona case among them.”
Those who stayed with it until the end tried to concentrate primarily on sport. Chessman did this masterfully. Christian Pömer, sporting director at Bora hansgrohe, sees Schachmann on the way to becoming a real cyclist. The promised himself weighs his words. “I was good at one-week races last year and have proven it now. How good I can be at three-week races will show in the future, ”he said.
It is extremely uncertain when this future will begin. Not only because cycling knows many promising talents who could not take the last big step. It is currently not even clear when the next big tour will take place. Schachmann was originally intended for the Giro d’Italia. In any case, it will be postponed because Hungary, the host country of the Grande Partenza, has decided against major events of this kind due to the corona virus. An alternative date is difficult to find. “With unusual one-day races like Milan – Sanremo you will surely find a place on the calendar later. The longer the races last, the harder it will be, ”said Kjell Carlström, manager of the Politt racing team Israel Start Up Nation.
The classic season is also questioned. Politt, who finished second at Paris – Roubaix last year, does not really believe that there will be a fight for the cobblestone in April. The training design is therefore difficult for the cycling professionals. What highlights should you prepare for? “The situation is difficult. Many races have been canceled. But then it may suddenly start again. Timing the form for this will be very special, ”said Schachmann. At the moment it is not even clear whether the “real” yellow jersey will be awarded in the host country of the Tour de France, given the spread of the virus. It is quite possible that Maximilian Schachmann was the last owner of a yellow camisole for a long time.