German Maximillian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) scored his best-ever finish at Strade Bianche on Saturday after making all of the moves except one — the winning acceleration of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
Schachmann finished third place, one minute down on van Aert and just behind Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates).
“It was a very hard, very tough race and I knew one of the key factors today would be how to manage the heat,” Schachmann said. “So, I cooled myself often, I rode the first four sectors really easy at the back and I could see that everybody was tired.”
Indeed Schachmann became Bora’s best chance for victory on the day after Peter Sagan suffered an early puncture and eventually dropped out of the race. It was one of several calamities to strike Bora — Schachmann himself changed bicycles on the sixth sector of gravel and spent several kilometers chasing. Schachmann’s teammate, Gregor Mülberger, also had a mechanical.
“I would say Bora-Hansgrohe had a good race today even if it wasn’t the luckiest day of the team,” said team DS Enrico Poitschke. “Still, we kept the morale high, we focused on the race and I think we managed it well.”
After a flurry of attacks inside the final 50 kilometers Schachmann made the front group alongside van Aert, Formolo, Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team).
The six riders eventually dropped van Avermaet just before they sped into the final sector, the climb of Santa Maria, which comes just 12 kilometers from the finish. It was there that van Aert made his winning move, speeding away from the other riders on the steep and loose climb.
“In Santa Maria I felt I had quite good legs and I tried a little bit in the last part,” Schachmann said. “In Santa Maria I almost crashed twice, we could barely see anything with the dust, so in the last sector I went a little bit easy and I think it was a mistake.”
Schachmann tried to go with van Aert’s attack with 12km remaining but lacked the legs and momentarily looked as thought he might join the Belgian. In the end van Aert muscled away while Schachmann joined forces with Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) to chase. The two traded pulls but were unable to close the gap to van Aert, who sped to the biggest one day victory of his road career.
Still, the result marks a major step forward for Schachmann in the classics. The German is quickly becoming a top rider in shorter stage races and major one-day events, and in 2019 he finished third at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Earlier this year he scored a stage win and the overall at Paris-Nice.