Cancellara clobbers competition
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cancellara clobbers competition

by Conal Andrews at 1:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
 

Fabian Cancellara today took what was the most dominant of his four major championship titles, hammering the 65 other competitors in the Elite men’s time trial at cycling’s world championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

The 28 year old Swiss rider was fastest from the word go, blitzing the quickest intermediate times and showing early starter Tom Zirbel (USA) that his time in the hot seat as race leader was limited.

Cancellara drew inspiration from the exhortations of the passionate home crowd, driving onwards in his Swiss national team colours and eventually beating Sweden’s Gustav Larsson by one minute 27.13 seconds. Tony Martin (Germany) was third, two minutes 30.18 seconds back, with Zirbel holding onto a final position of fourth.

Last year’s champion Bert Grabsch (Columbia HTC) was only tenth, while British rider Bradley Wiggins lost all hope of a medal when he had a mechanical problem. He had a delay in getting a replacement bike and eventually finished a dejected 21st.

“I did a big ride on a big course,” a delighted and emotional Cancellara said afterwards. “I’d like to thank this amazing crowd for their support.”

Big time gaps:

The Swiss rider first won the worlds back in 2006 when he beat Dave Zabriskie (USA) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) by one minute 29.97 seconds and one minute 49.72. The tenth placed rider, Vladimir Gusev (Russian Federation) was just under three minutes back.

The gaps were tighter for his repeat win twelve months later, where he was less than a minute ahead of Laszlo Bodrogi (Hungary) and Stef Clement (Netherlands). Ditto for the Olympic Games, where he beat Larsson by 33.36 seconds and Levi Leipheimer (United States) by one minute 9.68.

Today, though, there was a real gulf between him and the rest of the field. Larsson’s deficit of just under one and a half minutes was deceptive as Cancellara sat up inside the final kilometre and showboated to the line, thanking the crowds. Even so, he was two and a half minutes faster than the bronze medallist Martin.

Using tenth place as a comparison to his victory three years ago, 2008 champion Bert Grabsch (Germany) conceded three minute 37.39 seconds during his disappointing ride. This was clearly a very dominant performance by Cancellara.

Under the circumstances, third placed rider Tony Martin was satisfied with his bronze. "I wanted the podium and I got it. I reached my objective," he said. "It was a tough ride to calculate your strength in, so I had to be careful, but it all paid off. I did a very fast first lap and paid the price a bit for that in the second, where I had cramps and thought I was heading for a difficult moment. But then in the third lap I started feeling better again and finally I could finish strongly and end up with bronze."

Next up for Cancellara is Sunday’s Elite road race. He’s confident, saying that he wouldn’t ride the race unless he believes he can win it. Right now, though, he wants to savour his success. “I am still going to go for that medal. I’ll just enjoy this day, I’ll start thinking about that tomorrow. Now I have got to recover.”

Sunday’s course is a hilly one and Cancellara, weighing approximately 80 kilos, is not known as a climber. However in the form he displayed today, few are betting against him being in the mix and gladdening some more Swiss hearts on home soil. If he succeeds, he’ll be the first ever winner of both titles at the same Worlds.

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UCI Road World Championships, Mendrisio, Switzerland (September 23-27):

September 24, Elite Men’s Time Trial:

1, Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 49.8 kilometres in 57 mins 55.74 secs
2, Gustav Larsson (Sweden) at 1 mins 27.13 secs
3, Tony Martin (Germany) at 2 mins 30.18 secs
4, Tom Zirbel (United States Of America) at 2 mins 47.12 secs
5, Marco Pinotti (Italy) at 3 mins 2.88 secs
6, Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) at 3 mins 8.49 secs
7, Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) at 3 mins 11.59 secs
8, Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) at 3 mins 20.95 secs
9, Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania) at 3 mins 33.88 secs
10, Bert Grabsch (Germany) at 3 mins 37.39 secs
11, David Mc Cann (Ireland) at 3 mins 40.61 secs
12, Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) at 3 mins 43.95 secs

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