Fabian Cancellara finally filled a gap on his palmarès when he won the final time trial of the Tour de France in Pauillac. Last year he complained he had been denied victory by the shelter Alberto Contador had received from race motorbikes, but this year the Swiss was in absolutely no danger of being overhauled once he had knocked 17 seconds off Tony Martin’s time of 1-01-14.
Only Martin’s team-mate Bert Grabsch got within two minutes of the Swiss and Cervélo’s Ignatas Konovalovas was the only other rider to get within three minutes as the wind blowing down the Gironde increased in intensity.
“I feel very tired after what has been a long day today,” said Cancellara. “But I’m very happy and very proud to have that victory on my palmarès. I’m going to celebrate tonight with a good bottle of wine.”
One of the first to congratulate team-mate Andy Schleck after his great performance in the time trial and throughout this Tour de France, Cancellara said that the Luxembourger had “moved another step higher with that performance”.
“There was little that I could say to Andy today except to believe in himself and give everything that he could,” said Cancellara. “He showed right through the race that he is so strong and also so cool under pressure. The coolness he maintained gave him his power. Me, Stuart O’Grady, Bjarne and the whole staff on the team supported him. He’s got so much experience already in many ways and he showed that again today.
“I’ve been riding a lot in the wind for him to help him save energy, but the rest he now knows for himself. I remember very well when he was second at the Giro d’Italia, I told him that when he stopped for a pee, don’t sprint to come back, go slow and smooth and save your energy. But now he knows all these little things. He’s a real champion and one day he will be up there. He’s a fantastic rider and friend and we always have a good time together which is good.”
The Swiss also spoke highly of Contador, saying: “He’s got youth on his side, but he’s also got plenty of experience because he’s already won several editions of the Tour and other major stage races. I don’t know how many times he can win the Tour de France, but he has the opportunity to win it many more times. I don’t know Alberto that well as a person, but he’s very a calm personality, very focused and very professional.”
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).