Tour de France: Schlecks come before Cancellara
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tour de France: Schlecks come before Cancellara

by Conal Andrews at 9:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Double Paris-Roubaix winner may have to sacrifice his chance of a stage win

Fabian CancellaraAlthough Fabian Cancellara is one of the riders who will feel most positive about his chances on today’s seven sectors of cobblestones, the two-time Paris-Roubaix winner will have to forget about any personal goals if the Schleck brothers need help.

That’s the message that has been spelled out by Saxo Bank team owner Bjarne Riis, who is fixated on getting the final yellow jersey in the Tour.

“It will be a tough battle for all the riders to be first into the cobblestone sections,” he said in his column in BT. “Everyone will be there and we must be at the forefront, even though we no longer have the yellow jersey.”

Riis will have instructed Cancellara and the others on the team to do whatever it takes to support Andy and Frank Schleck, who were second and fifth overall last year. Only when it is clear that they have no problems will a little free reign be given to those who have the legs to fight for the stage win.

“The first priority is to protect Frank and Andy. We have also other people who can [win], and if I am confident towards the end and believe we have mastered it, it may well be that Fabian is allowed to chase after the victory,” he said. “We must wait and see.”

Riis’ team has an impressive recent history in Paris-Roubaix, netting three wins in the past five years thanks to Cancellara and Stuart O’Grady. Saxo Bank will thus have an advantage over some of the other teams on today’s tough stage to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, but will have to make the most of that to look after the Schlecks. They’ve little history of racing on the pavé and their build and bike handling may expose them to greater risk of crashing than many of the other riders.

Cancellara dominated this year’s Paris-Roubaix, attacking with well over an hour of racing left and soloing to victory. His performance was so impressive that it fuelled rumours that he had a motor secretly hidden in his bike.

Riis still searching:

Riis also discussed the ongoing search for a new sponsor for the team, confirming that there is nothing yet in place. It had been rumoured that he would announced a backer before the Tour start but had nothing sorted out. He’s fighting hard to keep things on the road, and still believes it is possible to sort something out.

“There is nothing to tell as yet, but I remain positive,” he wrote.

He played down speculation by Ekstra Bladet that telecommunications companies Telenor and Ericsson were interested in backing the team, saying that the media shouldn’t read too deeply into a visit by them plus existing co-sponsor Sungard to the Tour.

“It is true that Telenor has had some people visiting, but Ericsson has not. But it is not so unusual, we have very often people from different companies,” he said. “There are many who like to check out cycling.

“Sungard is already a sponsor, and we are not negotiating with the other two you mention. But I will not comment more on all the rumour and speculations. We will talk when there is something to talk about.”


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