Fabian Cancellara tuned up for the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics by taking his first victory since March in the Swiss time trial championship in Messen on Wednesday.
The RadioShack-Nissan rider has been feeling his way back into competitive action in recent weeks after he fractured his collarbone in a crash during the Tour of Flanders on April 1. After a surprise defeat at the hands of Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) in the Tour de Suisse time trial last week, Cancellara was glad to get back into the winning habit.
Cancellara’s victory was his seventh Swiss time trial title and it was his first participation in the event since 2008. In the intervening period he has twice been crowned Swiss road race champion.
“I'm very proud to have won another Swiss title in the time trial,” Cancellara said. “It's an honour to wear the colours of your country, even for the seventh time. The competition was very motivated, because all of us want that title.”
Cancellara clocked an average speed close to 50kph as he saw off the challenge of Thomas Frei (Christina Watches) by 1:54, while Martin Elminger (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was a further 6 seconds back in third.
Cancellara has long stated that his primary objective for the summer is the London Olympics. Gold medallist in the time trial in Beijing four years ago (as well as silver medallist in the road race), Cancellara will do battle with the likes of Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) for the top step of the podium outside Hampton Court Palace on August 1.
“I'm happy with where I stand at this point,” Cancellara said. “I was relaxed and very focused. In a race like this you don't have the big infrastructure around you, there are no official split times and there are not so many competitors [there were six starters – ed.], but it's still very good to go home with a good feeling in the pocket. The race was only 20 kilometres from my home, so that made it extra special."
Directeur sportif Luca Guercilena was satisfied that his man remains on course for London. “Fabian's time trial project is a work in progress. Even though he still feels the last two heavy mountain stages of the Tour de Suisse in his legs, he can be proud of his performance today,” he said. “This is not yet the Olympic time trial, of course, but it was a good test for him. Every victory is a victory. He put two minutes into the second man, so that's very good.”