Team BMC won the opening team time trial (TTT) in Frauenfeld. We talked to the Swiss racer Michi Schär, who was part of the winning team and now drives for the successor team CCC.
Tour de Suisse:We are almost in the middle of the new season, BMC Racing became Team CCC, how present is the team time trial of the Tour de Suisse still in Frauenfeld?
Michi Schär:The Tour de Suisse team time trial is still very present. We had a very intensive preparation time in the run-up and then we were able to achieve a very nice success as a team. Such memories remain!
TdS: You address the preparation. Such a team time trial lives from harmony, rehearsed processes and precision – how did you train them as a team?
MS:This begins in the training camps in December/January.
In the end, it’s all about one thing: to complete the course as harmoniously as possible without speed fluctuations. Everyone has to drive the same speed – but not everyone for the same length of time. This feeling and the harmony in the group requires a lot of practice.
Before the race itself, we arrived a few days before the start of the Tour – ahead of all the other teams and prepared very meticulously.
I think that we as a team have perfected the team time trial step by step over the last few years. At the Tour de Suisse 2018 all this came together.
TdS:As a team, you have not only dominated the team time trial, but the whole tour. You knew the yellow jersey from the first to the final day in your ranks. I suppose that was a special experience for you too?
MS:The Tour de Suisse is one of the really big races next to the Grand Tours. At the Tour de Suisse everyone is in top form and is hoping for a selection for the Tour de France.
It was a dream for our team, that with Andi Rihs, a Swiss founder and sponsor, to win the overall classification. Unfortunately, we have never made it over all these years, it was always enough for the podium but not for the home victory.
Last year we put our priority on the team time trial. This triumph then set the tone for the remaining 10 days. The fact that we were then able to pass on the leader’s jersey in the team was a state of emergency and an exploit in my career.
It was the first time in my career that everything went according to plan. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a beautiful race for me.
TdS:But it was hardly beautiful at all – one only remembers how, on the king’s stage, you almost single-handedly faced the outliers.
MS:Physically it was one of the hardest roundtrips I have experienced – it took me almost a week to recover! (laughs)
TdS:You start in every race as a team, but for many days – especially in winter – you train alone, without a team. How do you motivate yourself for all these training sessions?
MS:I have a great self-motivation, when I open the garage door, I am happy to get on my bike.
In addition, I often train with other professionals – who may be on another team but live nearby, like Mathias Frank or formerly Gregory Rast.
TdS:Radsport is on the one hand a team sport, on the other hand the winners or leaders are always in the spotlight – is team time trial perhaps the fairest discipline?
MS:The team time trial is perhaps the most beautiful discipline, because it depends on each individual, everyone contributes to the success and then you can triumph as a team.
TdS:Do you actually talk to each other during the team time trial?
MS:Hm, so I never speak during TTT, (laughs) but Stefan Küng or Rohan Dennis sometimes gave short instructions.
TdS: Is it different to race in Switzerland?does it make any difference at all – in the middle of a race car?
MS:The biggest difference is probably the distance. The passports and so I know and do not need to do Reko.
But I’m not one to be particularly successful at the Tour de Suisse right now – I’m always motivated to give my all.
TdS:In June you will start again with the Team CCC and Greg van Avermaet at the Tour de Suisse.
What changes for you with Greg van Avermaet as leader?
MS:It is clear that we as Team CCC are set up for the 2019 season without GC drivers. Greg has taken 2-3 stages that have a classic character. We’ll ride for him full speed as a team. We are free for the remaining stages – something completely new for me. I was always fully in the service of a leader in stage races. Now I will have the freedom to go to the top. This will be a bit of a change! (laughs)
I developed more of a diesel engine, and now suddenly out of the bus and then sprint up the hills with the boys to get into the escape group. (laughs)
TdS:Well, we wish you every success and look forward to seeing you at the start of the Tour de Suisse in June.