Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) was arguably the strongest rider in the race but finished third
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Cramps on the Muur held back last year's Tour of Flanders winner
Last year, Fabian Cancellara accelerated on the Kapelmuur in Geraardsbergen to drop Tom Boonen and ride off to win the Tour of Flanders in a solo. But in 2011, the Swiss rider suffered cramps on the famous climb and couldn't get away. The overwhelming favourite ended up in third place, losing the sprint of the three-man group which had formed at the end.
“On the Muur I was struggling with cramps. My world collapsed,” the Leopard Trek rider told sporza.be. “Even Superman can have a weak moment.”
Cancellara was alone with QuickStep's Sylvain Chavanel on the Muur with about one minute over the chasing field. Instead of pulling away, however, the field starting getting closer.
The Swiss powerhouse even admitted to making a rare mistake in the finale. “I saw Boonen coming and I started the sprint too early."
Being the overwhelming favourite had its disadvantages, as he was a marked man. “ "For 95 percent of the peloton I was the target. This makes it extremely difficult.
“I think I can still be happy with third place,” said Cancellara, according to the team's home page. “I was second in Milan-San Remo. I won Harelbeke, and today I was third. It’s still something very positive.”
Directeur sportif Torsten Schmidt agreed. “We have no reason to be disappointed,” he said. “Fabian is on the podium again in a WorldTour race. With everything he faced as the big, big favourite, he shouldered a lot of pressure, and to come out the way he did, I am happy for him. It’s a great result for a new team.”