Fabian Cancellara on E3, Flanders, and Roubaix trifecta: "Why can't I win those three races again?
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fabian Cancellara on E3, Flanders, and Roubaix trifecta: "Why can't I win those three races again?

by Jered Gruber at 12:22 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Leopard Trek leader says his form is better than in 2010

As we head ever closer to April's showdowns on the cobbles, one of the main questions is whether Fabian Cancellara can put together the same form he managed in 2010 en route to steamrolling through to wins at the E3 Harelbeke, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix.

If Cancellara's last two performances are any indication, he's coming along just fine. The four-time World Time Trial champion managed a fifth place in last weekend's Strade Bianche and then pulverized his own team on two separate occasions in a team time trial that took less than nineteen minutes this afternoon in the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

His rampaging on the front was certainly not conducive to a fast time, but it was without question an exclamation point - everything is going just fine.

Following his 5th place finish in Siena on Sunday following a tough day on Tuscany's white roads, Cancellara was pleased with the effort.

"It was an extremely hard and frantic affair. I was in the leading group at the finish, which was not the case last year," remarked the native of Bern to Schweizer Fernsehen.

In 2010, the Roubaix/Flanders double winner finished 11th, 1:19 behind Astana's Maxim Iglinskiy. This year, he finished on equal time, just four spots behind one of his cobbled arch-rivals, Philippe Gilbert. Unsurprisingly, Cancellara's verdict is that he's ahead of last year's form, and right on schedule for what he had hoped for heading into this year.

"A year ago, I was not this far along. Actually, everything is going as planned at the moment."

Heading into today's first day of Tirreno-Adriatico, the 29 year old spoke with Het Laatste Nieuws and said that he has no interest in overall glory at the Race of the Two Seas. In 2008 he took the time trial and the general classification at Tirreno-Adriatico before soloing to the win at Milano-Sanremo just days later. Three years on, and a race like Tirreno-Adriatico has its spot in Cancellara's schedule, but it's only for preparation.

"I'm not racing to win," said the Leopard Trek Classics captain.

Instead, Tirreno-Adriatico will hopefully hone his form that last little bit ahead of the year's opening Monument, Milano-Sanremo. Even La Primavera takes a backseat to Cancellara's agenda in Belgium though.

When asked if he thinks he can pull off the once in a lifetime trifecta of the E3, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix, Cancellara is quick to retort: why not?

"I'm starting from scratch again, but why can't I win those three races again? I certainly do not count that out. I'm strong. If everything falls together, it can happen again."

Cancellara follows that ominous statement with an even more foreboding one - following only his wheel will not make a race winner of his rivals.

"I would not recommend that my opponents just watch me though. If they do, they will lose, guaranteed."

Such was the case in 2007, when Paris-Roubaix was marked by, well, extreme marking of Fabian Cancellara. It was so bad that the favorites marked each other right out of the race, and it was Cancellara's then and current teammate, Stuart O'Grady, who hoisted the cobble over his head at the end of the day. The veteran O'Grady could once again be in that position to profit from excessive marking of Cancellara in 2011…that is, if Cancellara isn't quite head and shoulders above everyone else. If he is, then it won't really matter who marks him, as was evident last year.

Looking ahead to those other Monuments that haven't been notched into Cancellara's palmares yet, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia, this generation's greatest time trialist admits that he just can't quite stomach giving up his true loves in early April to go for them yet.

"The will to focus on another Classic at the moment fails me," said Cancellara to SF.tv.

While Liege-Bastogne-Liege won't make it as a focus this year, he will make his first real foray into the Amstel Gold Race if all goes to planned, and there's no reason the Giro di Lombardia can't get an earnest go considering his certain pre-Worlds preparation and likely fire hot form at the end of the year.

First up - the cobbles of Flanders and northeastern France await.



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