Strade Bianche: Cancellara’s victory chances foiled by rivals’ marking and team mishaps
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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Strade Bianche: Cancellara’s victory chances foiled by rivals’ marking and team mishaps

by VeloNation Press at 6:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
“I feel satisfied that I was able to go deep in this race…I look forward to Tirreno-Adriatico”

Fabian CancellaraHe won the race in 2008, repeated that success last year and was trying to become the first-ever three-time winner of the event today, but Fabian Cancellara ultimately had to be satisfied with fourth place at the Siena finish line of the Strade Bianche.

The RadioShack Leopard rider was undoubtedly one of the strongest in the peloton but a combination of a lack of team support plus negative marking by his rivals meant that he didn’t get the chance he needed to overcome the tactical coup pulled off by the Cannondale Pro Cycling team.

That squad out-manoeuvred Cancellara by sending eventual winner Moreno Moser up the road inside the final twenty kilometres, then keeping tabs on him via the close marking by race runner-up Peter Sagan.

Cancellara tried to jump clear several times but was not able to open any daylight between himself and his rivals.

“Cannondale and Astana did a good job of isolating me,” the frustrated Swiss rider accepted afterwards. “I tried many different things and my legs were very good, but in the end Cannondale played it perfectly to their advantage.

“It was a hard and intense final. I tried to do some moving to make things happen, but they would never let me go. Maybe at the end I should have had more in me but it’s easy to analyse after it’s over. We did have some bad luck on our side but that’s just the way it is.”

The bad luck he referred to were the mishaps which affected several of his team-mates and left Cancellara without vital team support in the finale. Had his fellow RadioShack Leopard riders been present, the decisive move may have been hauled back; in addition to that, it would have ensured that Cancellara himself would have had to do less driving at the front, thus conserving more oomph for the tough finale.

Team Director Kim Andersen explained just what went wrong. “The race was going perfectly until kilometre 125 when Roulston and Busche went down in a crash. It was at a bad moment, just before the sector at kilometre 130 where we knew everything was going to happen,” he explained.

The problems didn’t end there. “Popo then had a puncture and Nizzolo also crashed in that section. I lost four guys with technicals, not because of bad legs. Popo fought very hard to come back but then he was used up, of course. Thomas [Rohregger] was very, very good and Fabian showed that his condition was there but the situation didn’t lend to being able to win.”

Cancellara didn’t come away with the victory that he wanted, but he is nevertheless optimistic about how things are looking heading towards the Classics. He’d dearly like to take Milan-Sanremo, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen or Paris-Roubaix, and so from that point of view the good legs he had today will convince him he is on the right track.

He’ll now keep building and working towards the first of those three events. “I feel satisfied that I was able to go deep in this race and now I look forward to Tirreno-Adriatico,” he said. “This was my first big one-day effort this season and I think my training and preparation are on a good level.”

He was gracious in defeat, praising the squad of Moser and Sagan. “Cannondale raced smart and in the end they won because they were the best team. They rode it perfectly with everything on their side.”

Cancellara’s team-mate Andy Schleck was a non-finisher in the race, but said that under the circumstances, he was not too disappointed by how things turned out.

“Besides the crashes and wind, there were a lot of punctures today, too, but I think Fabian looked very good,” he said.

“I was pulling and there was a crash so I had to stop. I wasn’t in the crash, but had to stop for it. Then I had a puncture after that on section five and then with the crashes it became a mess with the cars.”

He too will remain in Italy and compete alongside Cancellara next week. “I felt ok today, though, so I am looking forward to Tirreno. I hope to keep these good sensations in my legs. I didn’t finish today but this is like a Classic race where we go all in for one rider and the rest are left behind so it’s not a worry for me.”

Schleck, like Cancellara, is trying to rebuild after a frustrating and injury-afflicted 2012 season. He crashed during the Critérium du Dauphiné, fracturing his sacrum and enduring a lot of pain in the months following the crash.

A clearer view of his form will be determined in Tirreno.

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