Tour de France: Cancellara accepts he lost the game of poker, but says his confidence is growing
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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Tour de France: Cancellara accepts he lost the game of poker, but says his confidence is growing

by VeloNation Press at 1:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
“Next time I'll do it better – I won't put the joker on too early”

Fabian CancellaraPeter Sagan may have been first to the line, but Fabian Cancellara was arguably the most impressive on today’s first road stage of the Tour de France. Yesterday’s prologue winner was the strongest in the finale, attacking on the final climb, opening a huge gap with Sagan on his wheel, then carrying both himself and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) towards the line.

Cancellara waved his elbow more than once to indicate the others should come through, but they didn’t do so. As was the case in Milan-Sanremo, the strongest rider in the finale was caught out. Sagan waited, then kicked hard close to the line and powered home.

Cancellara was second, Boasson Hagen third and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) finished right behind at the head of the chasing bunch.

The Swiss rider hung onto yellow jersey and, despite the frustration, had a big boost to his morale. “Today I earned even more confidence than yesterday because a finish like this – with a hectic finale and a climb…the game of poker might not yet have turned out in my favour but I'm getting there. That's a good sign.”

Cancellara was effectively trying to do what he did on the third stage of the 2007 Tour de France; outfox the main bunch and win in yellow. He went very close to what would have been a very stylish win.

“Once I made my attack it would have been good to get some help. In Milan-San Remo it was the same but I'm not going to attack and ease off and end up somewhere out the back – that is not my style: when I go, then I go and really put the hammer down until the end. That's what I've done,” he said. “I lost this game of poker but one day I'll win.”

Few predicted Cancellara would be the one to fight for the win as the finale was so tough. He himself talked about the difficulty beforehand, but also had the advantage of knowing exactly what to expect and how to play things out.

“I think I was the only rider to see the finish of today's stage only 24 hours ago, because after the prologue and all the work that was done – the press conference, the doping control – we went with the sports director to see the finale. And I was pretty happy about those few meters with cobblestones but I was a bit scared because there were a lot of riders who, on paper, were strong.”

The Swiss rider remains seven seconds clear of closest rival Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) heading towards tomorrow’s second stage. He’s determined to chase another stage win soon.

“I earned a lot of confidence. I wouldn't say I'm more happy than yesterday but the confidence I got today is very important for the coming stages.

“I've lost races like this before but next time I'll do it better – I won't put the joker on too early, and I'll just put the ace down. I lost Milan-San Remo in a similar way but it is how it is. In eight years, no one will do the same with Peter Sagan in a situation like this.”

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