German Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was hardly on anyone’s radar to win the 2019 Tour de France or to compete for the podium, which suits him perfectly as the race enters its final mountain stages.
The 26-year-old attacked the favourites including Geraint Thomas (Ineos) on the Tourmalet on Saturday and finished with an elite group the next day to Prat d’Albis. He sits sixth, just 39 seconds behind favourite Thomas in second.
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“I’m really satisfied,” he said. “It’s really nice how the race is going now and the last two mountain stages were really good for me. I was with the best.
“I was hoping for a top 10 and it’s looking even better now.”
Buchmann on Tuesday morning near the arena in Nîmes was pushed to the side by the number of journalists around Thomas, Tibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).
Most ignore the German, who already placed 15th in the 2017 edition.
“I think it’s not so bad for me,” he added. “I fly under the radar a little bit. Nobody’s really looking to me.”
Some began to take note this spring. He placed third in the Tour of the Basque Country and again in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“We had the goal to finish the Tour de France under the first 10,” said team sports director, Enrico Poitschke. “And now we’re in sixth, some minutes in front from 10th.
“But it’s not surprising because we prepared for the Tour de France. He was never was sick. He did some great results also in the beginning from the season, thinking back to the Tour of the Basque Country. He was one from the strongest riders in the Dauphiné. All that showed he was ready.
“He is a very good rider. And now he shows it in the in the biggest cycling race.”
The team is better known for Peter Sagan, who is well on his way to a seventh win in the green jersey points competition. Yellow is also entering their minds.
“I was hoping for a top 10 and now, I’m fighting with the best,” Buchmann added. “So we’ll see what happens in the third week.
“I saw that on the Tourmalet that the other riders are not really, really much better than me and I’m with the best, and that’s good.
“It’s really tight, all the way through to sixth. You never know, but everything must go perfect for a podium finish. A win? Nothing is impossible. But I need a lot of luck.”
If he won, it would be Germany’s first win since Jan Ullrich in 1997. That win and the doping scandals that followed nearly wrecked the nation presence in cycling. Now, Buchmann could continue a new era.
The pressure is on, he said, but not that much.
“I think everybody is hoping that I do a good result but Pinot, riding in France, has much more pressure,” Buchmann said.
“He’s now really a favourite and I’m an outsider. I look good, but I’m not a favourite.”