Fabian Cancellara garnered the biggest cheer from the crowds standing outside the Trek-Segafredo bus when he climbed down the stairs and onto his bike in Nijmegen at the start of stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia. But team management admit that despite the strong local support, tthe Swiss rider’s condition as he struggles on with sickness is anything but good.
After his eighth place in the opening time trial, Cancellara eased back on stage two, losing nearly two minutes, finishing fourth last in 195th place and dispelling any faint hopes he might bounce back quickly from his fever and gastroenteritis.
“His condition is still not good,” Trek-Segafredo director Dirk Demol told Cyclingnews. “Recovering from what he had is difficult, especially with the heat, it's 27 degrees all day. When you already have problems, it’s not the best way to recover. He is far from 100 per cent.”
After stage two, Demol said, “he was really empty. Empty. That’s why he sat up at the end. The goal is now to get to the rest day. Then it will be a stage on Tuesday…he was sick on Wednesday, so he should be recovered by then. We still hope he can go well in the next time trial.”
The idea of quitting, though, has not begun to circulate amongst the team. “It never came up, not even on Saturday. A few days ago he had fever, diarrhea. He was disappointed. He made no secret that he was focused on the time trial, because it was the only leader's jersey he has never worn in a Grand Tour. He took a week off after Paris-Roubaix and had been preparing ever since for the first stage of the Giro here in Holland."
Following his second place in the Tour of Flanders, and then crashing in Paris-Roubaix, this is the latest setback for Cancellara in a year which started very well indeed, with four wins including Strade Bianche and his fourth win in six years in the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, the San Benedetto time trial.
“I think he was the most disappointed after Flanders. He was just dreaming about Flanders. It was a great performance but he came for the win and after the race he was super disappointed,” Demol said.
But win or lose, Demol pointed out, Cancellara is always an important part of the Trek-Segafredo in the team in races, playing a lesser known but equally important role as a road captain, directing the squad inside the peloton.
“He gives something extra for the whole team. We’re here in the hope Ryder will do a good GC. With Giacomo [Nizzolo] also, he’s a candidate to win a stage. But the importance of Fabian is always there to organise things in the race itself.”