Georg Zimmermann finished second behind the Spaniard Pello Bilbao on the 10th stage of the Tour de France. The Augsburger chooses the wrong gear in the final, but shows that he has a stage win in the tour.
There were still 100 meters to the finish in Issoire. Georg Zimmermann’s upper body rocked up and down, his face distorted, the kick was heavy. In front of him was only the Spaniard Pello Bilbao, in whose slipstream he now tried to get in again. But it was already apparent that Zimmermann “didn’t get around that well” in the gear he had chosen for the final sprint, as he later put it.
Shifted confidently into the highest gear
By then he had already rushed through the finish line, second in the 10th stage of the Tour de France, down the road to the team bus, where he immediately disappeared. Minutes later, freshly showered, the only thing left to him was “that I missed the greatest success of my career by two or three meters”.
Zimmermann identified the gear he had set for the final as the reason for this. With 400 meters to go, he tried whether he should sprint “in the highest or the second highest gear” and then confidently chose the difficult gear. It turned out to be the wrong decision.
“That was maybe the only mistake he made today,” said Aike Visbeek, the performance manager of Zimmermann’s Intermarché-Circus-Wanty teams. Otherwise, Visbeek attested the German professional cyclist a “perfect stage”.
Not many chances for driver types like Zimmermann
Zimmermann was quite open about chasing his big goal, a stage win in the Tour de France, that day. At the Grand Départ in Bilbao, the 25-year-old from Augsburg explained that he had picked the 10th and 12th stages to jump into a breakaway group.
Rider types like him don’t get as many chances to win in the Tour de France. He is not a sprinter and also not a driver who drives up and away in the high mountains. But on the moderately difficult stages, such as the section on Tuesday between the Vulcania amusement park and the town of Issoire, its qualities as an all-rounder with climbing qualities come into play.
Confident in the illustrious circle of escapees
However, he shares these qualities with a lot of other drivers. This is shown by the illustrious cast of the breakaway group that Zimmermann landed in that day after a big fight, which in itself was a great achievement. You needed a “good knuckle” to be in there, said Zimmermann.
With Julian Alaphilippe and Michal Kwiatkowski, two former world champions were in the breakaway group. Then there was the later stage winner Bilbao, a classification rider who was fifth overall on the day, where he can now definitely be considered a candidate for the podium in Paris. Or Ben O’Connor, Tournament fourth place 2021.
The fact that Zimmermann now confidently rides in such a circle is also a result of his success in the Dauphiné Tour. There he celebrated a stage win in June, the greatest success of his career so far. “I just proved to myself that I can do it,” said Zimmermann. Which is why he is now “self-confident and with a broad chest” at the start of the Tour de France.
Trouble-free tour preparation
It is Zimmermann’s third tour participation. And unlike before the first two, this time the preparation went smoothly. Last year he was positive for Corona until a few days before the start in Copenhagen, an additional stress factor. But this time the preparation for the tour was perfect. “I was never thrown off the beat,” says Zimmermann. “Everything went like clockwork. And that makes everything a lot easier.”
Zimmermann is not someone who places his profession as a professional cyclist under the strict rule of science and numbers. Tracking his sleep or weighing his food wouldn’t occur to him. The good Lord gave him two feelings, a feeling of hunger and a feeling of satiety, Zimmermann explained in the context of the sports show series “Deine Tour”, which is why he prefers to listen to his body.
Down-to-earth team player
“Down to earth and an absolute team player” is Zimmermann, says Aike Visbeek, the performance manager, who is sometimes a bit sleepy and has his head somewhere else. But he fulfills the tasks that the team sets for him without hesitation. “If we ask him to do something, then he does it,” says Visbeek.
It will probably be the same on Wednesday. Stage 11 of the Tour de France is made for the sprinters again and Zimmermann’s task will be to support teammate Biniam Girmay in the final.
He might then get his chance again the next day. And if not, Zimmermann can wait. “My goal is to win a Tour de France stage in my career,” he says. That doesn’t necessarily have to happen this year. “Now I have good legs, I want to seize the opportunities. But if it’s only ten years from now, then it’s good too.”