Cancellara on Flanders triumph: ‘I can count on two hands the number of days I’ve been home this winter’
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cancellara on Flanders triumph: ‘I can count on two hands the number of days I’ve been home this winter’

by Shane Stokes at 1:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
 
RadioShack Leopard rider reaps benefits after long buildup for Ronde title

Fabian CancellaraReacting to the second Ronde van Vlaanderen success of his career, Fabian Cancellara has said that a considerable amount of personal sacrifice lies behind his triumph in today’s race. The Swiss rider was clearly the strongest in today’s Classic, dropping his rival Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) on the climb of the Paterberg and then time trialing to a dominant win.

“[It’s down to] hard work from me and the team and sacrificing time with our families. I can count on two hands the number of days I’ve been home this winter,” he explained, speaking after today’s success. “It hasn’t been easy for my wife and kids but these are the hard choices we make.”

Cancellara was particularly determined to take victory in Flanders as it was the location for one of his biggest career disappointments. The 2010 winner crashed out last year and suffered multiple fractures to his collarbone. That led to a long period of physical discomfort, and also many missed opportunities for victories.

While he came back to take the prologue of the Tour de France, he later crashed in the Olympic road race and called an early halt to his season.

Winning today’s race was symbolic in exorcising those ghosts, in fighting back from the adversity he suffered in 2012.

“My career won’t last forever so it’s important to pick moments to enjoy. This victory is for my family and team. They gave me so much support. And for the fans – it was a perfect day. My second win in Flanders has been exceptional. I will relax now and recover from this effort and see what happens next week,” he said, referring to Paris-Roubaix.

Cancellara’s wife Stefanie attended today’s race and said that she intended being present next Sunday as well. “He deserves this so much after last year’s misery. Oh, yes, I will stay until Roubaix now.”

Winning despite favourite tag:

One of the strongest riders in Milan-Sanremo, Cancellara narrowly missed out there when his late charge fell short of Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka) and Sagan. He continued working on his form and clocked up a fine solo win in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke, thus marking himself out as one of the favourites for today’s race.

His triumph came despite the eyes of the peloton being on him, and Sagan’s efforts to stick like a limpet to his wheel on the final climb.

“One year ago I was on the ground and now I’m back and I’ve won Flanders on the new course,” Cancellara said, explaining how significant the win was for him personally. “It isn’t easy winning as the big favourite but I’m really happy.

“In the end it was a strange race, but strange good because I won! It was so fast in the beginning and we had to take over early but I think that was the key. There were not so many riders left at the end. The team did a fantastic job and I did what I had to do: bring the Ronde Van Vlaanderen home.”

Directeur sportif Dirk Demol said that he was always convinced that Cancellara could do it, and also that the team would be good enough to be able to support him in that goal. “We could see in the previous races he was good. He was working on his condition and always improving,” he said. “Everyone was riding hard today and waiting for his attack. There were comments before the race that RadioShack Leopard Trek would not be one of the strongest teams in the race today but I was laughing at that. I knew better. I knew we had the team here to support Fabian and they were ready to die for him.

“Between 10km and 5km to go, there was no race information so I pulled up beside him and told him he was going to win the 100th Tour of Flanders. He’s full of confidence now – he is the one to beat next week in Roubaix.”

Given how today played out, and that the cobblestones of Roubaix should in theory suit him more than the bergs of Flanders, it’s difficult to argue with that assessment. Cancellara has had to wait three years to win a major Classic, missing out in 2011 and 2012. Now, with his morale on a high, he’ll head to the Hell of the North next week determined to repeat the double he pulled off in 2010.

For now, though, he’s savouring today’s result. “This was an amazing team job. Everyone was against us and we just stayed focused,” he said. “We came on the Oude Kwaremont for the last time and Gregy Rast said everyone looked tired, so I tried to do the first selection there.

“Peter (Sagan) and I came up to Roelandts then and I knew I had to go again to get away from Peter.” He was able to do that, breaking Sagan’s resolve on the final climb of the race.

Mission accomplished. “It happened like we’ve been planning for months,” he said.


Also see: Cancellara powers away on the Paterberg to another Ronde van Vlaanderen victory
 

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