Cancellara dominated E3, attacking from a group of favourites with 20 kilometres to go and soloing to the finish where he took the win by one minute. It was a performance that rekindled memories of last year’s E3, Flanders and Paris-Roubaix whitewash.
“It’s the biggest win of the season, absolutely,” a delighted Nygaard said at the finish.
In last year’s E3 Cancellara, broke clear with Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) and although he came out triumphant that day, both riders, along with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) and Pippo Pozzato (Katusha) were absent from today’s race, saving their legs for Gent-Wevelgem, which takes place in 24 hours.
When asked if today’s win was a blue print for Cancellara’s possible successes at Flanders next weekend and Roubaix in a fortnight, Nygaard was quick to step back, having earlier posted on Twitter "And to the critics we go: shhhhhhh".
“I think that would be presumptuous. There are a lot of strong teams, especially for Flanders, and there were teams that weren’t here today but...
Speaking to the press outside of the Garmin team bus at the finish, Vaughters reiterated his belief that his was the best Classics team, but conceded that his riders were powerless to derail Cancellara’s locomotive charge in the final 30km.
“For sure [we have the strongest team], but we don’t have the strongest rider,” Vaughters said wistfully.
Heinrich Haussler and Seb Vanmarcke were on the attack before Cancellara's series of race-winning moves, and though each man put up stout resistance to the Swiss rider’s dominance in the finale, they ultimately came away empty handed.
“As soon as everyone lost his wheel that was it,” Vaughters said. “I could have told you with 15.8km to go that that was it. Haussler responded immediately but he couldn’t do it. With Fabian, when he’s on that sort of a ride, you literally have to be right on him. You can’t be five metres off him.”
Vaughters acknowledged that Garmin-Cervélo could learn lessons from Saturday’s race in Harelbeke, even if they did not necessarily square with the team’s racing philosophy.
“It’s a lesson, but sadly the lesson is that you have to race negative,” Vaughters said. “Realistically you almost have to race against just him, but there’s no other way to beat him, apparently, when he’s...
After recovering from several technical bike problems, Cancellara surged forward for the first time on the Kruisberg, with 50km to go. At that moment he was still marked by riders such as world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo), Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM), Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step) and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
Eight kilometres later, Hushovd's acceleration on the Paterberg didn't put Cancellara in any real difficulty and on the following Oude Kwaremont, Cancellara showed all his rivals that they would have to be in top form to beat him in the Tour of Flanders next Sunday.
Lars Boom (Rabobank) was riding within reach of Cancellara on the Oude Kwaremont when the latter accelerated. “I reacted too late. I came back to about 50m, but that was it. When he attacked, I couldn't react. [Nick] Nuyens got dropped by him too,” Boom told Cyclingnews.
Less than 20km later, Cancellara was in the lead group. Fourteen other riders were weighing up their chances as they headed towards the final climb of the race, the 1400m long Tiegemberg. Bram Tankink (Rabobank) attacked in the crosswinds just before the climb, and he got a small gap on the group. Then Cancellara upped the pace in front of the group and he simply blew Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) and Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervélo) off his wheel.
“It's unbelievable. It's not normal... I mean, it's impossible to beat him,” Vanmarcke said.
Cancellara quickly joined Tankink but when the latter tried to follow his...
American confirms he will postpone retirement and race in 2012
George Hincapie (Team BMC) has confirmed that he will continue to race until the end of 2012. The 37-year-old American had been considered retiring at the end of this season with his contract set to expire. However after penning a one-year extension, the American will race next year’s Classics and possibly the Tour de France for a final time.
“I feel really good these days. I’m going to do one more so it’s confirmed. I’ll do the Tour this year and maybe one more after that. I still feel good and I’m still enjoying racing by bicycle and enjoy being on Team BMC but more importantly I enjoy the position I’m in. I don’t take it for granted and it was a dream of mine as a kid,” he told Cyclingnews.
Hincapie was talking at the start of Sunday’s Gent-Welvegem where he leads a strong BMC squad that includes Alessandro Ballan and Greg van Avermaet. Hincapie was strong player in last year’s racing, forming part of the race winning move. He eventually finished in 4th position.
A mix of cobbled classics specialists and sprinters lined up in Deinze on Sunday for the start of Gent-Wevelgem. With 14 climbs, including two ascents of the Kemmelberg, the hard men will have plenty of scope to force the issue and break up the race, while the flat run-in to Wevelgem gives the sprinters’ teams a chance to bring it all back together for a thrilling finish.
Weather conditions at the start were overcast but quite still, although the peloton is sure to encounter some wind as it heads towards the coast in the middle section of the race.
Among the fast men to watch out for are HTC-Highroad’s trio of Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw and Matt Goss, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo), Robbie McEwen (RadioShack), Danilo Hondo (Lampre-ISD) and André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) will form an interesting Italian threat, while home hopes include Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
Boonen and Gilbert were heartily cheered to the start in Deinze this morning. With Fabian Cancellara not in the race and the Tour of Flanders just a week away, the Belgian duo will doubtless be looking to make a statement in response to his crushing victory at the E3 Prijs in Harelbeke on Saturday.
HTC-Highroad sprinter disappointed after missing out again
Coming into the final 30 kilometres of Gent-WevelgemMark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) was amongst the favourites for victory if the race ended in a sprint. However a crash on an innocuous stretch of Belgian tarmac, when another rider hit him from behind, destroyed his chances of taking the biggest win of his season so far.
The British sprinter already looked to be out of contention earlier in the day when he punctured before the first ascent of the Kemmelberg. Teammate Danny Pate waited for him and paced Cavendish back to the front group. Despite having to face several more climbs before the finish, Cavendish was in contention as the race sped towards Wevelgem. Then he was taken out of contention again.
In this exclusive video Cavendish talks about his race, and the crash that ruined his chances.
With Quick Step lying bottom of the WorldTour standings coming into the weekend, Boonen skipped the E3 Prijs in order to save his energies for Sunday’s race. The decision paid dividends when he outsprinted Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo).
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Boonen admitted afterwards. “In the last few years, Gent-Wevelgem was off my list, but because of certain reasons it came back on and I’ve won it for the second time. So of course it’s a surprise and I’m also very happy.”
Mechanical problems on the second ascent of the Catsberg threatened to remove Boonen from contention, but he successfully chased back on in the company of Kevin Van Impe. When a four-man group featuring his teammate Sylvain Chavanel and the prodigious Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) then clipped off the front in the closing 30km, it increasingly looked as though he was out of running for the win.
Boonen even began to dedicate his efforts to hindering the pursuit behind, but in a breathless finale, the race came back together just in time for a group sprint, with Ian Stannard (Sky) the last man to be caught.
“The breakaway was gone, we were protecting it a little bit and all I was doing was shouting at guys and trying to keep everybody at the front to get the morale of the other teams as low as possible,” Boonen said. “And then suddenly Geert [Steegmans] started sprinting and I saw the guy in front of me, Stannard, and I said ‘he’s...
Crash costs teammate Hushovd chance as Garmin's lead-out man
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) was left isolated in the finale of Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday but secured a podium place by finishing third behind Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek), who was also at the end without any teammates.
Farrar came into the race having selected it as one of his biggest goals for the season. He positioned himself well on each short bergs, but on the second ascent of the Kemmelberg found himself with just one teammate, world champion Thor Hushovd, for support.
With the climbs dispatched with and 30 kilometres left to race, it looked a certainty that Hushovd would lead Farrar out in the sprint - a tactic that worked to perfection in on stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this month.
However, a crash involving Hushovd and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) ruled out Farrar's best plan and he was forced to ride for himself as first the peloton caught an four-man group in the final kilometre, and then in the hotly contested sprint.
"It came to the sprint, which is what I hoped for, but I was isolated in the finish which was a pity because I had really good legs," Farrar told Cyclingnews at the finish.
Hushovd's absence meant Farrar was forced to fight for himself, while Boonen was able to rely on five teammates.
"I had to come from a little too far behind and had to waste a lot of energy to fight for position. I was fighting to get on Boonen's wheel, but I had to use a lot of my strength to do it."
As Farrar made his way to the podium, Hushovd crossed the line and made an instant beeline for the Garmin-Cervelo team bus. He had...