Montalcino, 20 May 2021 – Mauro Schmid only find out two weeks prior to the announcement of the Team Qhubeka ASSOS squad for the 2021 Giro d’Italia that he was one of the eight riders selected. The 21-year-old, in his first year as a professional, in fact a year ago was uncertain that he’d be able to find a team to take the step up into the professional ranks.
In Montalcino, at the finish of stage 11, the man from Zurich announced himself to the world with a stunning display to win the “Strade Bianche” stage of the 104th Giro d’Italia.
He looked a rider born for the big stage, although just the day prior to his victory, on the first rest of the opportunity of the race, he shed some light on how his debut race had been going.
“The Giro has definitely not been easy,” he said at the team hotel in Perugia. “It’s hard to get a feeling for it and I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I’ve had a few difficult moments in these first 10 stages so far but now I’m starting to feel better and I hope that I will have two big weeks now.”
On to stage 11 then where he made his move early in the day’s breakaway of 11 riders which included teammate Bert-Jan Lindeman, who drove the pace to ensure the gap to the General Classification riders was big enough for the breakaway to go to the line.
In a stunning finish, Schmid eventually beat Alessandro Covi in the uphill sprint for the line in Montalcino. Behind him in the Tuscan dust, the race’s general classification riders were doing battle while Schmid collapsed, shell-shocked at what he’d just done.
In an instant, his life changed forever as he became a Grand Tour stage-winner in his first-ever Grand Tour.
“Honestly, I was thinking about winning from the start because this is what motivates me. I had concerns – a lot of them during the race – I was thinking about what Giacomo and Victor told me: “second or third place? nobody thinks about that, it’s only the win that counts” and this was my mentality today and in the end I was lucky that the plan was good,” he said on arriving at the team hotel following the podium ceremony and media duties.
“I honestly couldn’t feel anything, I was exhausted but also emotionally I couldn’t believe that I won when I crossed the line. This time last year I was hoping to get a contract but my chances were not very good and I signed quite late in the season. Then at the beginning of the season I wasn’t thinking about doing a Grand Tour or a big race and now I just won a stage at the Giro – it is amazing.
“We have a great spirit in this team. Everybody works incredibly hard for each other but we ride for a greater cause in the belief that bicycles change lives. This means a lot to me, I could feel the energy in the team during this Giro – through the bad times and the good times – and this purpose definitely played a huge role in helping me win the stage today.”
— Jean Smyth to teamqhubeka.com