Riis believes Cancellara can win Amstel Gold race
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Riis believes Cancellara can win Amstel Gold race

by Conal Andrews at 10:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race
 

Following yesterday’s storming display by Fabian Cancellara in Paris-Roubaix, Team Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis believes that the Swiss rider can do the unthinkable and take his third straight Classic next weekend.

The Dane won the Amstel Gold race with a long solo break in 1997 and despite the fact that he course has changed significantly since then, he feels that Cancellara’s superb condition makes the task possible.

“Cancellara is much stronger than four years ago,” he told Sportwereld yesterday, referring to the rider’s first win in Paris-Roubaix in 2006. “He can also win the Amstel Gold next weekend. And then he will also ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège – we must make the most of his fantastic form.”

In fact, Riis was so confident in Cancellara’s current level of fitness that he told the rider to go on the attack with some 50 kilometres remaining in the race. With a large group of chasers behind, the potential was there for the rider to be hauled back due to their collective strength, but it never happened. Instead, he finished a comfortable two minutes clear of closest chasers Thor Hushovd (Cervélo Test Team) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky).

Riis implied that the attack was a spur-of-the-moment decision. “I saw suddenly that Boonen was far behind Fabian in the main group and so I told Cancellara to ride,” he said. “Boonen simply made too many mistakes…he was too nervous. To win this race, you should be relaxed.

“And I knew that Cancellara could attack from far out. If he had not got into a good rhythm, I would have stopped him immediately.”

Following a slower-than-usual start to the season, the team has picked up seven wins in the past two weeks. These are the E3 Prijs, Tour of Fanders and Paris-Roubaix victories of Cancellara, two stages in the Volta a Catalunya (Juan Jose Haedo and Jens Voigt), the Rund um Koln (Haedo) plus Matti Breschel’s Dwars door Vlaanderen triumph.

That all gives Riis plenty of confidence in his ongoing search for a new main backer for 2011 onwards.

“If I cannot find a new sponsor for Team Saxo Bank after this feat, I think I never will,” he said. “Who would not like to be part of this huge success?”

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