Fabian Cancellara closes spring campaign with a disappointing crash
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Fabian Cancellara closes spring campaign with a disappointing crash

by Jered Gruber at 7:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Leopard Trek rider says he felt better than he had all spring at Amstel Gold Race

Fabian CancellaraAndy Schleck's solo move with less than ten kilometers remaining came close to victory and Jakob Fuglsang's fourth place finish was certainly credible, but the overall feeling for Leopard Trek must be one of - what could have been?

Luxembourg's team had a stellar unit on hand for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, highlighted by an all-star squad of Andy Schleck, Fränk Schleck, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt, Fabian Wegmann, and this spring's strongest rider, Fabian Cancellara.

Cancellara made his first appearance in Holland's Classic since 2004 on Sunday. He came into the race as a contender, but finished it quietly, far behind the jubilant celebrations of repeat winner, Philippe Gilbert.

It wasn't for lack of legs though. Cancellara says he felt better than he has all season yesterday in the hills of Limburg.

"[Sunday] was a new kind of race, and without the pressure, I had the best feelings today - better than the others before. I was feeling good both physically and mentally. The race today was hard, but after 200 kilometers, I started to notice how good I felt. Before then, it was constant left and right, and I didn't know the parcours very well. Finally, I came to a moment where I really went back to the peloton and started to feel good - to feel stronger and ready to do what was necessary. I was ready to dig deep and do something nice, and I didn't have the chance."

A crash at a decisive moment in the race left Cancellara and Fränk Schleck on the side of the road and with no real chance of reintegrating. The previously dominant position of Leopard Trek was suddenly gone.

"I'm pretty sad. I touched [wheels with] someone at the most important moment in the race, and I went down hard. It goes quickly that you lose the leaders in an important moment like that. I tried to go as fast as I could back to the bunch, but in this really tricky moment of the race, the race was gone. My race was over in a moment."

For the 2nd, 3rd, 2nd place finisher in the year's first three Monuments (Milano-Sanremo, Flanders, Roubaix), it was a chance to show that he was in fact human, in the opinion of the Swiss star.

"I'm human. I'm normal like all the others. A crash can happen for everyone. I have gone through thousands of races without a crash, but it happened today. It's sport. It's cycling. I can't change anything. I have been close to crashing many times and did not. Today, I went down. I'm disappointed. The feeling I had today was such a special one. It was a beautiful race this team was making until the crash."

With the unfortunate knowledge that another big chance was lost, Cancellara shut down his spring campaign Sunday evening.

"Now, for me there is rest. I'm looking forward to it, although I still feel I lost a huge possibility today to be up there to try what I could with Andy and Fränk."

The winner of three Monuments - Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix - Cancellara's impressions from yesterday's race indicate a scary truth: if he can get that same fitness in the future, there's not much standing in the way of him adding a victory in the Ardennes, specifically at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, in his quest to win all five of cycling's Monuments.


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