Fabian Cancellara led his Trek Factory Racing team to a second place in the Eneco Tour time trial stage on Wednesday. Stage 3 was a short, but intense race against the clock over 9.6km. Cancellara finished in a time of 10:57, the first rider of the day to go sub-11 minutes.
However, the former world and Olympic time trial champion is better suited to longer time trials, and when Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) roared under the finish banner, the clock flashed 10:55. It was two seconds faster than Cancellara.
"I am happy with my performance, I went out and did the best I could: I had good motivation from the car, and I had good feeling on the bike," said Cancellara.
"I think after my break it was a good performance. What really counts for me is that I gave 100 percent. At the end there was just somebody two seconds faster."
"Of course it’s always a pity that you lose a time trial by two seconds. But on the other hand, I missed the physiological advantage of having someone close to me, who is as fast or even faster than me. I had the time splits from my teammate Jesse Sergeant, which was helpful since he had the best time at that point, but what would have been better for motivation was the last few guys, or the specialists, like Lars Boom, Dumoulin and Geraint Thomas - they all did the Tour and are really prepared to do this race well. "
Trek Factory team director Dirk Demol said, "When I saw the parcours I knew that it was a good course for Fabian and Jesse. I told them in order to win they need to do 53kph average. Fabian was very close to a 53 - he did a 52.6. Then Dumoulin came, and yah, well he was faster and that’s how it is in a time trial. I can’t say that Fabian could have gone two seconds faster - he did close to a perfect race."
"Fabian’s performance was good; he is not in the top, top form yet and we all know his big goal is later in the season. The course would have been better to be a bit longer for him, but Dumoulin was two seconds faster, and chapeau."
The race is far from finished with only 21 seconds separating first from 10th in the standings. Fabian Cancellara also climbed into 12th place, at 24 seconds, and certainly no one is counting him out of the running.
Tomorrow continues with another flat stage, which is expected to be good for the sprinters.
Cancellara said, "In the end I am happy - another second place for the team, another second place for me. But I don’t like to be second I want to be first, we want to be first, and we will give a try again tomorrow."