Stage Four – Two mountaintop winners in San Jose

In one of the most impressive team and individual performances thus far on the tour, Chris Horner (USA) of Team RadioShack out performed his competitors to win the first mountaintop finish in the history of the race atop Sierra Road outside San Jose. As Horner crossed the finish line, he raised his fists in the air to cheers from the throng of roaring fans who had flocked to the top of the mountain to witness competitive cycling at its best. Horner built a lead of one minute and 15 seconds over his nearest competitor, teammate and three-time event winner Levi Leipheimer (USA).
“Our goal today was to blow apart the field, and we did,” said Horner, who at 39 years-old is in the best form of his 16-year pro career. “The last five weeks I was on a mission to come to the Amgen Tour of California in the best fitness of my life. I’ve put in the best five weeks of training, and it has been a hard five weeks, but it was worth it because it was an easy five kilometers to the top of the summit.”
Following Stage 4 of the race, Ryder Hesjedal(CAN) of Team Garmin-Cervelo was awarded the Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey for his work at the front of a breakaway. “On today’s stage, we had the guys to bring the pressure,” said Hesjedal. “Fortunately, I was able to stay in there and bring a little bit of time back for the team. There is still a lot of racing left and putting pressure on Team RadioShack over the next few days is a big goal of ours.”

In our eyes, the true winner of the day was Cancer Support Community member and volunteer, Bernie Schmidt. More than 20 years ago, Bernie was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma that nearly took his life – but he beat it. Ten years later he found himself facing cancer once again, this time in the form of colon cancer. The treatment for this disease left Bernie with life-long side effects, constant reminders of his battle – but, he beat it. Now in his seventies, Bernie was most recently diagnosed with breast cancer. It hasn’t been easy – he underwent a mastectomy, chemo, radiation and hormone therapy – but we’re happy to say that he beat that, too.
Add to all of this a form of skin cancer which he continues to monitor daily, and you have a FOUR-TIME cancer survivor of FOUR DIFFERENT cancers. Bernie’s positive attitude and ‘One Day at a Time’ outlook is an inspiration to others. Now retired, he volunteers his time to the CSC affiliate in Silicon Valley, where he is also a member. “People come to the group for the first time and I can relate to many of them and the things they’ve been through, because I’ve been through a lot of it myself,“ he says. Harriet Schmidt, Bernie’s wife, has been by his side as a cancer caregiver throughout his journey. She regularly attends a separate support group for caregivers and also volunteers her time to the organization. Together, they provide an example of hope and positivity for all who meet them.

For us, one of the best parts of CSC’s involvement with the tour and the Breakaway from Cancer initiative is the opportunity to meet people like Bernie and Harriet, who both quietly offer support to others while also building awareness of CSC’s resources in their community. We’re so grateful for their support of the mission and can’t thank them enough for spreading the word about the cancer support available through CSC and our other BFC partners – Prevent Cancer Foundation, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and Patient Advocate Foundation.
Stay tuned for an update from the Stage 5 finish in Paso Robles!

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  • Susan

    What an inspiring couple, we can all learn a lot from their story. Keep up the posts I can't wait to hear more.

  • LCO

    These are truly amazing stories! Thank you for sharing!