Cancellara fights his way to fifth in Tirreno-Adriatico sprint

Trek Factory rider tests his form against Classics rivals

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) stopped just after the finish line of stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico in Arezzo to take a long drink from his bottle and try to wash away the lactic acid in his huge legs and the disappointment of missing out on victory in the hectic uphill sprint.

Cancellara finished fifth behind winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), as the best Classics riders in the peloton flexed their muscles. While the cobbled Classics do not finish with a similar uphill sprint on rough paved roads, the Arezzo finale was like fighting for the sweet spot approaching a key climb in the Tour of Flanders or the decisive sector of pavé in Paris-Roubaix. Pride was also at stake as the days count down to the big Classics.

“These are my competitors for the Classics but it was a bit tricky. I wanted to have a try to see, but it was such big chaos in the end, and I did what I could,” Cancellara explained in English, revealing he was caught too far back and had to make a big effort to get back up to the front.

“Popo (Yaroslav Popovych) did a big turn, and Stijn too, to bring me from 2km to 1km and I paid for that. When you can stay at the front it’s different to when you have to move up. I came from far behind and took a big risk but some how I was there and survived to get fifth place.”

Cancellara managed to fight himself close to the front as the riders eased but he was always behind Van Avermaet, Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) as they opened up their sprints. There was no room left for him to try to push through and take a clear line to the finish.

“I was there but on the steep ramp it was getting a bit slower, so I was blocked and I couldn’t really go right or left. In the end it’s okay like this. It was a tricky finale, and I gave it my best shot.”

Cancellara admitted that he was also paying slightly for the consequences of his crash mid-way through stage 2. It seemed of little importance compared to a big stack up at kilometer 140 and then Viviani’s and Modolo’s high-speed crash in sight of the line after Mark Cavendish lost his chain. Cancellara was big enough to admit the crash had been his fault.

“I’m still paying for my stupid crash from yesterday (Thursday). It was my mistake but I hope it’s all okay for the rest of the race,” he said, not revealing the problem or how it had affected him before heading to the Trek Factory Racing team bus.

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