Despite finishing fifth on the cobbled stage of the Tour de France, Fabian Cancellara suggested that cobbles have no place in the race due to the dangers of racing on the pave in such difficult conditions.
Cancellara had predicted that the fifth stage in the Tour de France would end in carnage but told Cyclingnews that it was right on the cobbles, saying, "It's a risk for everyone, including me, but we've got to live with it and calculate the risks involved."
After finishing the day caked in mud and hearing that his teammates were involved in multiple crashes, he changed his opinion. Trek Factory Racing team leader Frank Schleck finished 43rd on the stage, losing eight minutes to race leader Vincenzo Nibali.
"The race was a mess. When I heard on the radio what was happening just with our riders, I could imagine what must be happening with the others - in my opinion this does not have a place in a Grand Tour," he said according to the Trek Factory Racing team website.
"It was completely different than in April because the field is so different. Also the wet roads made it very dangerous - the whole course was now dangerous."
"The problem was that there was always a gap because someone was tired, or slipped a bit, and you could not pass him on the cobbles. When the three Astanas and Boom went, this is what happened. Also, on wet cobbles, it is very different, you cannot use a high cadence like when it's dry, which is how I like to do it."
Cancellara was caught in the chase group with Peter Sagan, while Lars Boom (Belkin) powered away to a solo victory and Vincenzo Nibali gained time with teammate Jakob Fuglsang.
He refused to do all the work to close the gap and finished fourth, in the same time but one place behind Sagan and 1:01 behind Boom.
"It was already a situation where I was pulling, and when they went everyone was looking at me and Peter (Sagan) to do the work," he lamented.
"Just me and Peter could not make the difference, so I had to calculate my energy. I did not want to pull, pull, pull and then the others pass me at the end, so I had to manage myself and play a bit or otherwise I would have been even more behind. Hey, chapeau to Astana who did a fantastic ride - they honored the yellow jersey."
Frank Schleck tries to stay positive
Despite losing vital time and hearing that his brother Andy suffered knee ligament damage in his crash on the stage to London, Frank Schleck tried to stay upbeat about his day on the pave.
"We knew it was going to be hard and we expected the worse. We knew it was coming - but still, it was very bad out there," he said.
"I had a flat tire with around 25-30 kilometers to go, and it took a while for the car to come."
"We will continue to stick to our plan. We will still try and win stages and we will keep fighting as a team. We have to keep our spirits up, the same as when we started, we will stick together. We owe this to ourselves, to all the team, all our fans, and to our sponsors."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.