Hitting the wall: Nick Nuyens on beating Cancellara at the 2011 Tour of Flanders

Nick Nuyens wins the 2011 Tour of Flanders from Sylvain Chavanel and Fabian Cancellara.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was hard to escape the sense that the party was already over. The grey sky had been drooping slowly over Harelbeke all afternoon, and now the air was flecked with the first hint of rain. 184 bike riders had left town shortly after midday and by the time they came back, almost all of them had quietly put the idea of winning the following week’s Tour of Flanders out of their heads.

Twelve months previously, Fabian Cancellara had produced three remarkable feats of strength on successive weekends to win E3 Harelbeke, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Each victory was more emphatic than the last. So emphatic, indeed, that Italian journalist Michele Bufalino suggested he had availed of a hidden motor to do so, a charge that Cancellara firmly denied.

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Barry Ryan
Head of Features

Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.