Fabian Cancellara to spend a record 27th day in Maillot Jaune
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fabian Cancellara to spend a record 27th day in Maillot Jaune

by Ben Atkins at 4:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Swiss rider has had more time in yellow than any other non-winner; concedes again that final victory is beyond him

Fabian CancellaraAs a four-time World time trial champion, and five-time winner on the opening day of the Tour de France, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) is no stranger to record breaking, but today he broke another.  Tomorrow, stage six of this year’s Tour de France will see the Swiss rider spend his 27th day in the race’s hallowed Maillot Jaune, which is an outright record for a rider never to have won la Grande Boucle overall.

The man who spent the most time in yellow was, of course, the great Eddy Merckx with 96 days, but the Cannibal won the race five times in the ‘60s and ‘70s; next on the list is Lance Armstrong with 83, but he won the race a record seven times. The other five time winners, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Jacques Anquetil are next on the list with 75, 60 and 50 days respectively.  Cancellara’s total however, lifts him to twelfth on the all-time list, overtaking Belgian Sylvère Maes, who won two Tours before World War II, and - significantly, the great climber René Vietto, who wore the jersey either side of the War, but never won the race.

The next men on the list, in joint tenth place, are the great Louison Bobet and Ottavio Bottechia, who won three and two Tour respectively.  Both men held the yellow jersey for 34 days in total - with Bottechia being one of the few riders to have worn it from start to finish in 1924 - which may be out of Cancellara’s reach this time, but it may be achievable in the next few years.

“It's always a pleasure to ride in the yellow jersey and, plus, to make history like I have today is pretty awesome,” said the Swiss rider. “For us it's been a great opening for the Tour de France. Having done what we have takes a lot of pressure away and we're almost at the second week and we can go in with a different situation – one of being almost relaxed, not having too much pressure because I think winning once and then having the yellow jersey for so many days is a great opportunity and we seized it and took advantage of it.

“This is good for us as a whole team, it's good for the sponsors, it's good for cycling, it's good for the supporters from all over the world. We could not have a better beginning than the one we've had.”

As usual, the first week of the Tour has been peppered with breakaways, each threatening to take Cancellara’s lead away.  The RadioShack-Nissan team has had to work to keep things under control, but luckily has not had to work alone as other teams chase their own objectives.

“We do what we have to do and the rest is up to the sprinters teams,” he explained. “We always have someone up the front of the peloton who is helping and I think that's is normal. Now we have another day in yellow and after tomorrow another phase will begin.”

While he has led the race on five occasions to date, Cancellara concedes that he is unlikely to ever win the race.  With the Swiss rider having taken his home tour - the Tour de Suisse - in 2009, it was thought possible that he might be able to compete, but the Olympic time trial champion has given up on such an idea.

“The thought of actually winning the Tour de France is not realistic,” he admitted. “The Tour is not what I have in my list of goals to win. The Tour is a dream and a dream is not a goal.

“A goal like that is something other riders have,” he explained. “From Fränk Schleck to [Andreas] Klöden, to [Bradley] Wiggins and Cadel [Evans]. I just live something else, I have the yellow jersey for 26 days now and that's good.”

With a sprint expected on stage six, Cancellara will likely see his 28th day in yellow, but that will likely be his last this year.  Stage seven will see the first moutaintop finish of the race and, although the climb to la Planche de Belles Filles is far from the steepest in the race, the big time trial specialist is unlikely to finish with the leaders.


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