Fabian Cancellara may be in the last season of his career, but he is not one to fade away. To the contrary, the Trek-Segafredo rider showed unmatched power and skill to take home the victory in the Volta ao Algarve time trial on Friday. In spite of the demonstration, Cancellara says he still has work to do before his major season goals, the cobbled Classics Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Cancellara started in the middle of the 179-rider field for the 18km test after giving up almost eight minutes on Thursday's mountain stage and was unsure of how well his time would stand up to the later starters.
"I felt good and powered everything on the road," Cancellara said. "The race was one-quarter technical in the first part and three-quarters with more power straights. A lot of wind, tail-wind and cross-wind; it was a really tough one. I just powered everything out I had."
Cancellara sailed through with a 20:57, knocking Movistar's Alex Dowsett from the hot seat, but he faced a wait of more than an hour before he would find out if he won.
"After yesterday's hard stage I did not have a huge crazy expectation of going for the win. I knew I started early, and with [Tony] Martin and [Geraint] Thomas starting so late… so I just focused on myself, on my performance. I did my usual warm-up, and I had good feelings on the trainer, and in this situation, with my experience, I knew with these feelings that I was good, and mentally this helped me.
"And then it was waiting, waiting on the hot seat. I am kind of surprised, but on the other hand super happy about the win."
Martin looked strong at the intermediate split at 11.3km, coming through with eight seconds on Cancellara's split, with Thomas not far behind, but both riders faded in the final kilometres, Martin giving up five seconds, and Thomas coming in third at 29 seconds.
"I just powered everything out,"Cancellara said of his pacing. "I was going 70km/h on certain parts of the course back to the finish. I don't know if you can say I calculated the pace; I knew it was going to be a 21-minute race, and I just gave it all knowing what the effort would be. When you have good feelings, and you know that you are going fast, then when you also hear from the car from Dirk [Demol, director] in the radio – and they know me so well – that helped me to power out even more, and this is also what is important. I don't say I was flying home, but I was powering home."
Although it was his second win of the season, Cancellara maintains that he has more work to do to prepare for the major races like Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. If he can get similar results in a race like Tirreno-Adriatico, then he will have more confidence.
"There is still some work to do; next week I will take a small rest and move on again with Strade [Bianche] and Tirreno. I still need more, because I need to compete with the others who have been racing in Qatar and Oman. I am just enjoying riding my bike, riding the races, and this makes me feel relaxed. To take another win on top is super cool for myself and super nice for the team and for the motivation for everyone."