At nearly 2 metres tall and over 90kg NTT Pro Cycling’s Max Walscheid might have surprised many as he takes to the final stage of the 2020 Tour de France.
In a race that featured eight mountain finishes and some brutally hard racing, the fast men in the peloton have spent many hours suffering with their own battle to make the day’s “time cut” and ensure that they are able to take to the start line the following day.
Ahead of the final stage, a remarkably fresh looking Walscheid beamed following his time trial finish at La Planche des Belles Filles, having received fantastic support from the fans that had congregated along the route.
“I’m incredibly proud, it was a very very long way to get here; not only in the race itself but to be selected for the Tour de France, and with everything that builds up to that. I was really happy to line up here and now that I’ve made it through for three weeks, I’m just really looking forward to Paris and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.
“I certainly didn’t pick the easiest edition of the Tour de France for my debut. I also remember doing an interview before the race where I told the press that I was selected as a leadout rider and they said, “well will you actually be in the sprints because it’s actually quite hard in the sprint stages?” Now I’m pretty happy that I was there and that I’ve proven that I can do it.
The 27-year-old German has relied on a strong support network throughout, and let us in on what’s given him some extra motivation.
“It was just incredibly nice that my girlfriend has followed almost the entire race. I think for her it’s also pretty special to see me racing here and for me it’s very special to see her on the side of the road. In some of the difficult stages she’s been standing at certain points and we know that we may pick a particular climb on the route that I need to make, and if for sure she’s standing on the top it gives me some extra per cent to make it.”
“I think we’ve had a really good atmosphere as riders; for me it was very emotional when Giacomo left because we actually spoke in the race to each other before he had to stop. The same goes for Michael Gogl with whom I have a very good relationship, the three of us also worked together in previous races and were part of sprint train so that was definitely a big set back for our sprint ambitions, while mentally I also struggle when you lose teammates. Of course we also lost Pozzo but in the end you have to keep going as long as you can and that’s what I did.
Walscheid though isn’t done just yet, he now has his eyes firmly locked on one final stage in Paris and a first opportunity for him to ride the Champs-Élysées.
“I think we have a very good shot on a top result tomorrow. I think that however we carry out the plan, we can go for a very good result and I think everybody’s ready to kill for that.”