Cancellara: Tour of Qatar is a special race

Trek man left behind in crosswinds on stage 2

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was one of the main victims to lose time on stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar after the race split on several occasions in the crosswinds.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the stage, sprinting clear from a 15-man front group to win his first race of the season, after Etixx-QuickStep had launched a series of race-splitting moves.

Cancellara had looked strong in the opening skirmishes as the race set off at breakneck speed. He and three of his Trek Factory Racing teammates made the initial split inside the opening 20 kilometres but when a second major break in the field occurred after 124 kilometres, Cancellara found himself out of the lead group. He eventually finished 9:18 down on Kristoff and the rest of the overall contenders and now sits 79th on general classification.

“It was a pretty chaotic and nervous. They went full gas that’s how it is in Qatar. If you miss a split then you’re out,” Cancellara told Cyclingnews.

Dust and dirt caked to his face, he sat in the passenger seat of thee Trek team car as his teammate Gregory Rast joked ‘which team car will take me to the airport?’

“We went through one corner and I was already suffering a bit because it was quite hot,” Cancellara said.

“I had made the first split and we were well represented at that point but Qatar is a special race.”

It was a brutal day of racing but Cancellara stressed that despite a poor showing he and his team were at the race in order to develop as a squad.

“We’re here to grow and to develop as a team for the season and that’s what we’ll continue to do. I didn’t have my best day but that’s normal in Qatar. One day you can be there and the next you’re not. It’s not a case of me waiting to ride strongly just tomorrow in the time trial. You’re either in or out of the front group.

“We look at the bigger picture but we also look for the smaller pictures as well. We’re building up our condition and our confidence here and I think everyone here was going to be in Qatar with good condition because the winter in Europe wasn’t so cold so a lot of riders are on good form already.”

Tuesday’s stage will see the riders face a 10.9-kilometre individual time trial. Cancellara has somewhat moved away from targeting such events in recent times but he still remains a force to be reckoned with. When asked about his chances, he simply replied with: “Ask me tomorrow. Right now I’m just thinking about today and recover. Tomorrow I’ll reset and think about the time trial.”

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