Merckx compares Cancellara’s Paris-Roubaix triumph to his own victories
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Merckx compares Cancellara’s Roubaix triumph to his own victories

by Conal Andrews at 7:05 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 

Perhaps the greatest compliment in the sport of cycling is to be compared to Eddy Merckx and when it is Merckx himself making the comparisons, the plaudit is even more deserved.

The Belgian was clearly impressed with the dominance shown by Fabian Cancellara in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, recognising that the 50 kilometre exploit was something unique in modern cycling.

“If this is not Merckxian, what is?" he said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. "It was really the way I did before. A very impressive performance.”

Cancellara went into the race as one of the clear favourites after his win in the Tour of Flanders one week before. He was closely marked by the other riders in the front group yet when he decided it was time to go, nobody could do anything about it. What’s more, the chasers had over an hour to try to bring him back but were unable to do so, the Swiss train winning by two minutes.

Without diminishing Cancellara’s effort, Merckx did point out one difference with the way things were done before. “There is specialization now, cycling has changed. But like Roger [de Vlaeminck, the four-time winner in Roubaix], I have determined that more top contenders were in our time. There were a dozen Belgians could win Paris-Roubaix. And the competition?”

Merckx went on to point out that he felt there were fewer top contenders in the running on Sunday, with Tom Boonen representing his country’s only hope. “There was only one Belgian who could really compete for the victory, and who raced too nervously anyway. That is a conclusion. But that does not affect the performance of Cancellara…the way he won was really big.”

Cancellara has set himself the goal of winning all five monuments before he retires, thus adding Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia to his haul. He’s already taken Milan-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders and now has two editions of Paris-Roubaix to his credit.

His Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis wants him to compete in the Amstel Gold race this weekend, then ride Liège after that.

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