Team Saxo Bank sent out a strong message ahead of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix when Fabian Cancellara stormed to victory in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke. It was a victory built on teamwork with every member of the team pulling their weight to land another success.
The team hit the front of the race en mass with 80 kilometres to go. They led the chase of a group of 24 riders and controlled the peloton as the battle to stay at the front intensified on the short, steep climbs before the finish.
“That was the game plan,” confirmed Stuart O’Grady at the finish. "We wanted to be in a good position coming into the critical part of the race. You’ve got to take the bull by the horns in races like this.”
At one point, as O’Grady lead the chase, he seemed to clash heads with Frederic Guesdon (Française des Jeux). “We just bounced onto each other but there was some much worse shit going on back in there. There was a lot of stuff going on.”
At the finish Frank Hoj agreed that the team has executed their plan to perfection. “We wanted to be in the front, make the tempo and take responsibility for the race ourselves. We knew that Fabian had the legs and he was pretty motivated today. We stuck to the plan and Fabian finished it off.”
The team hasn’t got off to the best of starts this year. The sponsor revealed it would be pulling the plug and Andy Schleck has struggled with injury. However Hoj believes that after today’s win and Matti Breschel’s win in Dwars door Vlaanderen last week, the team are starting to put a good run together.
“In cycling timing is everything,” he said with a grin. “It’s easy to get into condition too early but I think we’ve peaked at just the right moment. We want to keep it up now with Flanders and Roubaix coming up.”
Dominik Klemme is one of the youngest riders on the team. Sitting by the bus eating a post-race snack the German, who bears a striking resemblance to Jan Ullrich, was pleased with his day’s work. Klemme was in the day’s early break but sat up once the radio crackled with the news that Boonen had launched the attack and that Cancellara was with him. “I waited when I heard Boonen was attacking, I gave Fabian a bottle and then pulled him towards the next climb but after that I was finished. I was empty.”
“This is just nice,” he said. “You get good morale. When racing is like this it’s just fantastic. It’s just easy.”
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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.