Swiss rider picks Gilbert for first yellow jersey
With no time trial on the opening day of the Tour de France for the first time since 2008, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) is determined to enjoy a more relaxed build-up the Grand Depart.
"I know there's no prologue but it's a new situation for me, so maybe I'm a bit calmer as there's no pressure," Cancellara said. "I just have to take things as they are. The chance is still there to take yellow but there are a lot of others who are favourites for the first stages."
Like many others, Cancellara believes that Philippe Gilbert will be the favourite to take the Tour's first yellow jersey atop the Mont des Alouettes on Saturday afternoon and he expects his Omega Pharma-Lotto team to take responsibility for controlling the race in the finale.
"Normally in the past I've always had yellow the first day," Cancellara said. "Now we can make Philippe the favourite beforehand because he's shown he's the guy for that kind of race and I don't think the sprinters will have the power for the climb. The pressure is on Gilbert's team."
The Belgian's recently bleached blonde hair may also be an indication of his aspirations on the Tour's opening weekend. "He's never worn yellow and now he's got a nice new haircut so maybe that tells you what he wants," Cancellara joked.
Cancellara has an early opportunity to showcase his time trialling skills on Sunday afternoon in the team time trial at Les Essarts, but he will have to wait until the final weekend for the race's sole individual test.
He insisted that his primary role will be to work for the Schleck brothers as they make their assault on the general classification. In the opening week, Cancellara is expected to chaperone Fränk Schleck though the flat stages, while Stuart O'Grady will fulfill the same function for Andy.
"Without a prologue I have different ambitions," Cancellara said. "There is the team time trial, of course, but more importantly we need to do things as a team over the three weeks.
"I'm just looking forward to having fun during this Tour with the whole team. When there's space to free, I might be able to take that to my advantage, but that's not my goal in this Tour. It's all for the team."
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