Cancellara poised for overall victory in Oman?
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cancellara poised for overall victory in Oman?

by Conal Andrews at 6:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Depending on how today’s stage progresses in the Tour of Oman, world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara could well be on track for his first victory of the season. The big Swiss rider finished as part of the front group yesterday and started today’s stage just 16 seconds behind the overall leader Daniele Bennati (Liquigas – Doimo).

Providing he finishes with the other overall contenders today, his strength against the clock will make him one of the big favourites heading into tomorrow’s 18.6km TT to Muscat Corniche.

Saxo Bank sports director Bradley McGee said that it was the case of being in the right place at the right time yesterday.

“At first, the stage seemed like another dedication to the sprinters. On the last part of the stage I told the guys to move to the front as I always do to prevent any mishaps or loss of time,” he explained. “About 35 kilometers from the finish line, there was an attack which tore the peloton into three groups; five Team Saxo Bank-riders were in the front, including Fabian.”

The most important outcome as regards the overall classification was the time loss suffered by then-race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky). He stopped with 55 kilometres remaining for a quick toilet break but several riders then put the hammer down, perhaps aggrieved at a reported acceleration in pace by Team Sky while in the feed zone earlier.

Boasson Hagen chased hard but eventually finished one minute and five seconds back. He dropped to 34th, just over a minute behind Bennati, and while he is also a strong time-trialist, he will struggle to get back on terms.

McGee accepts that Cancellara is in the perfect position to take the stage and the overall win, but sounds a little cautious.

“Of course, he is now in a strong position to take the leader's jersey on Friday's time trial but he is still not feeling in peak shape as his main goals are in April,” he said. “We'll still have to wait and see what happens on tomorrow's stage [Thursday]."

Another rider to watch in the race against the clock is Marco Pinotti (Columbia HTC), who is on the same overall time as Cancellara. The Swiss rider would normally be stronger in time trials but if Pinotti’s form is more advanced at this point in the season, he could stage an upset.

Quick Step’s Tom Boonen is also worth considering. He has stated on several occasions that he wants to evolve into a top time trialist, and with a four second advantage over both of those riders, he has a slight advantage. Tomorrow's stage will show if he has done the necessary groundwork over the winter to reinvent himself as a chrono contender.



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