Fabian Cancellara showed his top early-season form after winning the third and arguably toughest day at the Mallorca Challenge - Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana. The Trek-Segafredo rider surprised himself by being in the day’s breakaway and then soloed to his first victory of his last season before retirement.
"I wasn't sure about the time gap in the last kilometers," Cancellara said of his breakaway success in a team press release. "I knew that Sky was moving behind, and so I knew that I had to just give everything. I was fully exhausted at the finish. But so was everyone – it has been a harder race this year with the nice weather. It was full gas all day, not one minute of relaxing."
Cancellara’s time in the breakaway was not a planned scenario, and once he was there he said he didn’t think that it would make it to the finish line. The breakaway did stick and Cancellara used his form to make it over the top of the day’s big ascent Puig Major. After catching four riders just ahead coming off the climb, he took advice from his team director Alain Gallopin to push his time advantage out further on the descent. He passed the day’s final, smaller climb over the Coll d’en Bleda alone and held a 17-second gap after crossing the line to win the race.
"Alain told me to go full gas in the downhill, to just try, and by the bottom, I had 45 seconds. Then I was just fighting and fighting to the end,” Cancellara said.
The Mallorca Challenge is made up for four events; Trofeo Campos-Santanyi-Ses Salines, Trofeo Pollença-Port de Andratx, Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and the Trofeo Playa de Palma. Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the opening race and Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) won the second. Cancellara had already shown that he is in good form when he placed sixth behind Brambilla.
"I tried hard yesterday, and it didn’t work, and today I did not go to the [team's] plan, and it did,” Cancellara said. “These things, the way they happen, are like for a storybook. I am happy, very satisfied, and now I can relax and then go to Dubai."
Cancellara will head to the Dubai Tour next and then race at Volta ao Algarve. His spring campaign will include Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the cobbled Classics. He is also confirmed to start the Giro d’Italia in May.