The 21-year-old Swiss rider, a Giro d’Italia stage winner, joins his dream team.
Mauro Schmid is the newest signing of Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Only 21 years of age, Schmid showcased his potential during the famous gravel stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, where he took home the win after going in the decisive breakaway. Patrick Lefevere, CEO of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, also noticed the skills of the Swiss all-rounder: “Mauro is still very young, but he already has a Grand Tour stage to his name. The fact that it came in the Montalcino stage only proves what he’s capable of. He still has so much margin to grow, as not so long ago he was still combining different disciplines. Now he’ll focus on the road for the next two years, and we’re more than happy to guide and help him to become better.”
Mauro has come a long way until he reached this point of joining his dream team Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
“First I started mountain biking. I did it more or less for fun. After one or two years I also started doing some road racing and then when I was under 17 I began cyclo-cross. For nearly four years I combined it all together, most of the time I did a mountain bike race on Saturday, on Sunday a road race, and then the whole winter I did CX. Being only 14 years old, it was quite a big program then. When I became junior I more or less stopped mountain bike racing, as I realised I had more potential on the road. As a junior I combined road and CX during winter. A bit later, I started track racing when I was a second-year junior. After that I got in the elite national team on the track and decided to go for this in combination with the road.”
“That combination worked quite well, but most of the time I didn’t really have the opportunity to take a break. I had to be quite careful with the whole planning. I realised I could make it to the Olympics, but I had to fight for my spot. Because of that I tried to focus a bit more on the track for a period of time, but then with Covid it got postponed. It was difficult and I had to switch my attention to the road, as my goals were road-related in 2020. Eventually I got my first pro contract. In 2021 everything came together, my first year as a pro on the road and the Olympics. It was quite a big step for me. Now my goal is to leave the track a little bit behind. I won’t retire from track, I think I’ll keep it for the winter, but my main focus will be road racing for the next two years.”
“I learned something from every discipline. Definitely the CX training and racing helped me a lot to learn how to handle my bike and how to avoid crashes. Becoming a pro was still quite a big step, as before I was working full time. I worked 40 hours per week and then I trained in the evening. I was a car mechanic. In Switzerland it’s quite common to combine work and school. Then you get your degree and you can choose another business if you want. But my parents own a car dealership, so for me it was a logical step. I rolled into it and I was interested in cars. When I turned 16 I had to choose if I wanted to keep on studying, I wasn’t really motivated to do so. Now when I look back it also helped, as I had a tough time working and training, but I still competed well despite the lack of training hours. I did like half of the training hours of other guys my age. I stopped working at the end of 2019 and then I went to the army for four months, but most of the time we were training there and we had some other responsibilities.”
“I liked turning pro, it all moves so fast. To live this lifestyle is great, I have seen the other side already, a 9-to-5 job is really something totally different and also something hard. Some guys don’t know what it is, but because of that I’m even more motivated to have this chance to be a full-time cyclist. The most beautiful thing I think is you’re more or less your own boss. You have of course a lot of people around you, but it always comes back to your own responsibility if you eat well, go to bed early, train hard. You need to focus and keep your goals in mind. And how unique is it to race all around the world? I’m also lucky to have my whole family supporting me, my father was also racing and knows the cycling world.”
This year I got my first big pro win, on the gravel stage in the Giro.
“It was the first time I went into a breakaway from the beginning and it was a totally new thing. Also the Giro came unexpectedly for me, as I didn’t really prepare for it. I heard I was selected like three weeks before as I was in a good shape and they believed in me. During the first days after this news I was a bit in shock, but then I felt the support of everyone and I knew I had to be confident. I also didn’t go there with any expectations, just to support the other guys.”
“The whole Giro was up and down. I had super good days, but also bad days. Before the rest day I had a really bad day, then I did a short spin on the rest day itself and the next day was the Strade stage. I had this stage marked in red and I really wanted to go in the break. I had the feeling this stage could give the breakaway the opportunity to make it as the GC guys would look at each other. I felt super good, and I tried to save my power. Nobody knew me so I could take some advantage of that. You never know if it’s your last chance to win a Grand Tour stage. I really like to ride on the gravel because of my cyclo-cross history, so I felt at home on those white roads. After my win I got so many messages, that I had to switch my phone off in the evening.”
“Now coming to this team is a dream that comes true. I have a lot of memories from watching the Classics as a kid and seeing this team always perform. It’s about this mentality of always trying to win and this squad that holds together so strong. Here it’s really all or nothing and a lot of guys get the chance to go for a win. I really want to integrate well in the team and make another step to being more consistent in my performances. Winning another race would be amazing of course. Getting good results with your teammates also brings me a lot of joy. It’s as nice as winning by yourself, experiencing this is really something I’m looking forward to.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images