Mauro Schmid stormed to victory on stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia, claiming the first professional win of his career and Team Qhubeka ASSOS first win at this year’s Giro d’Italia.
The young Swiss rider (21), who was drafted into our Giro team two weeks before the Grande Partenza, got into the early break of the day with fellow teammate Bert-Jan Lindeman, along with 10 other riders.
It was to be a very special stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia as the 162km route through the Tuscan countryside included 4 gravel sectors, totaling more than 35km inside the final 70km of the stage.
Both Lindeman and Schmid were part of our team that raced the Strade Bianche earlier this year, and were able to draw on their experience of having trained and raced on the white roads already this year. Lindeman had in fact also stayed on after Strade Bianche this year to recon this Giro stage, information which proved invaluable for him and Schmid in the break.
Lindeman did a fine job to drive the break along with his younger teammate, as the gap to peloton maxed out at 14-minutes. It soon became clear that the stage victor would come from the breakaway.
The gravel sectors whittled the front group down as expected, but Schmid certainly looked like one of the more comfortable riders on the slippery sandy surfaces. Schmid excited the final gravel sector with just 2 other riders on his wheel and 9km remaining in the race.
A final cat 3 climb into Montalcino left Schmid to battle it out with Alessandro Covi (UAE-Emirates) for the stage win. With a strong track pedigree behind him, Schmid took the sprint on from the front and Covi was unable to match his turn of speed over the final 200m.
I can’t believe it, it’s my first international win and I would never have expected it to be at a grand tour. I was not even expecting to do a Grand Tour this year, but the team believed in me and I got the chance to do the Giro. It’s an amazing race and it means a lot to me.
I started with mountain bike racing when I was younger, and cyclocross and now I also do track. I will go to the Olympics this year. The technical skills from cycle cross and the power from the track have helped me to develop as a rider.
We ride for a bigger cause; we ride for bicycles to change lives. We ride for a charity, but everything in our team is high performance. We have a great team spirit. For me, bicycles mean freedom, it means happiness. And that’s why we ride, that’s the reason.