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Nygaard has Cancellara as favourite for Tour of Flanders

Brian Nygaard is the team boss

Brian Nygaard is the team boss (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

Fabian Cancellara’s win in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen will mark him as the favourite for next weekend’s Tour of Flanders according to many, including Leopard Trek’s manager, Brian Nygaard.

Cancellara dominated E3, attacking from a group of favourites with 20 kilometres to go and soloing to the finish where he took the win by one minute. It was a performance that rekindled memories of last year’s E3, Flanders and Paris-Roubaix whitewash.

“It’s the biggest win of the season, absolutely,” a delighted Nygaard said at the finish.

“Even without adding up Frank Schleck’s win in the Criterium International, it was an amazing day for us and Fabian. He was a big favourite but for me what he did today didn’t even make sense to me. It was insane.”

In last year’s E3 Cancellara, broke clear with Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) and although he came out triumphant that day, both riders, along with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) and Pippo Pozzato (Katusha) were absent from today’s race, saving their legs for Gent-Wevelgem, which takes place in 24 hours.

When asked if today’s win was a blue print for Cancellara’s possible successes at Flanders next weekend and Roubaix in a fortnight, Nygaard was quick to step back, having earlier posted on Twitter "And to the critics we go: shhhhhhh".

“I think that would be presumptuous. There are a lot of strong teams, especially for Flanders, and there were teams that weren’t here today but obviously doing what he did last year he is naturally a favourite. Setting a blueprint, that’s a little presumptuous.”

However the likes of Boonen and Flecha will have watched today as Cancellara set about dismantling all that Garmin-Cervelo and Rabobank had to offer. The Swiss rider had three mechanical problems - two punctures and a bike change – and despite no race radios was able to chase back to the field each time and still have energy to attack on several occasions.

“Obviously he’s the uber favourite [for Flanders] but it’s a long, long really hard race, and the other teams have prepared just as hard as we have so I wouldn’t write off any of the major competitors."

“Even from a fan perspective we all want a tough Flanders with all the big names fighting it out amongst each other. Hopefully those names will be there as well. We want to see the biggest guys fight it out on the toughest parcours. Flanders should be a good opportunity. Fabian is set to do a great Flanders.

Watch Fabian Cancellara's press conference

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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.