Stage winner interview with Michael Schär
Tour de Suisse: We’re almost halfway through the new season, and BMC Racing has become CCC Team. How fresh in the memory is the Tour de Suisse team time trial in Frauenfeld?
Michi Schär: The Tour de Suisse team time trial is still very fresh in our memories. After a period of very intensive preparation, we were able to go on and clinch a great victory as a team. It’s something we’ll always remember.
TdS: News-DetailYou mention the preparations. A team time trial is all about harmony, rehearsed processes and precision – how can you practise these skills as a team?
MS: It starts in the training camps in December and January.
In the end, it all comes down to one thing: riding the route as harmoniously as possible with no changes in speed. Everyone has to ride at the same speed – but not everyone for the same length of time. This feeling and the harmony within the group requires a lot of practice.
We arrived for the race itself a few days before the start of the Tour – before all the other teams – to begin our very meticulous preparations.
I think we’ve gradually perfected the team time trial over the last few years. At the Tour de Suisse 2018, it all just fell into place.
TdS: Your team didn’t just dominate the time trial but the whole Tour. You had the yellow jersey in your ranks from the first day to the last. I assume that was a special experience for you, too?
MS: Alongside the Grand Tours, the Tour de Suisse is one of the biggest races. Everyone taking part in the TdS is on top form and hoping to be selected for the Tour de France.
For our team, it was always a dream to win the general classification here: after all, with Andi Rihs, we had a Swiss founder and promoter. Sadly, we never managed it over the years. Our efforts were always enough for a place on the podium but not for a home win.
Last year, our priority was the team time trial. This victory then set the tone for the remaining 10 days. The fact that we were able to pass on the leader jersey within the team was definitely a special experience, and one of the biggest achievements of my career.
It was the first time in my career that everything went according to plan. I don’t remember being involved in many nicer races.
TdS: But it was more than just nice – we can remember how you led the chase after the breakaway during almost the entire queen stage.
MS: In physical terms, it was one of the hardest tours of my life – it took me almost a week to recover! (laughs)
TdS: You start every race as a team, but you also spend many days training alone away from the team, especially in winter. How do you motivate yourself for all these training sessions?
MS: I’m very self-motivated. When I open the garage door, I can’t wait to get on my bike.
I also often train with other professionals from different teams who live nearby – such as Mathias Frank, or Gregory Rast in the past.
TdS: Although cycling is a team sport, it tends to be the winners or leaders who enjoy the limelight. Is the team time trial perhaps the fairest discipline in this sense?
MS: The team time trial is maybe the nicest discipline, because it comes down to every individual – everyone contributes to the success and you’re victorious together as a team.
TdS: Do you talk to each other during the team time trial?
MS: Personally, I never speak during the TTT (laughs), but Stefan Küng or Rohan Dennis occasionally give some brief instructions.
TdS: Is racing in Switzerland different in any way?Do you notice any major differences?
MS: The biggest difference is the route. I already know the passes etc., so I don’t need to do any research.
But I’m not someone who would be particularly successful at the Tour de Suisse, I’m always give it my best, where ever the race takes part.
TdS: In June, you’ll once again be competing at the Tour de Suisse with CCC Team and Greg van Avermaet.
How will it be different for you having Greg van Avermaet as the leader?
MS: Everyone knows we don’t have a GC rider in CCC Team for the 2019 season. Greg will be focusing on two or three stages with a classics character. We’ll be giving our all for him as a team. For the other stages, we’ll enjoy free rein – that’s something I’m not used to at all. In the past, I’ve always been fully at the service of a leader in stage races. I’ll now have the freedom to join the breakaways. That will be quite a change! (laughs)
I’ve evolved into more of a diesel engine, and now all of a sudden, I’ll be sprinting up the hills with the others to join the breakaway as soon as I step off the bus. (laughs)
TdS:Well, we certainly wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you at the Tour de Suisse in June.