Fabian Cancellara may have missed out on the stage win in Seraing, Belgium today, but the RadioShack-Nissan rider said he had gained a huge amount of confidence from his performance. Having maintained his grip on the yellow jersey after the first stage of the Tour de France, he said his goal now is to keep hold of the jersey until the race reaches France. He even hinted that he would like to hang on to it until the Tour reaches his native Switzerland at the end of this week.
Cancellara revealed that he had looked over the closing sections of the Seraing stage after winning yesterday’s prologue. “Just 20 hours ago I looked over the course with my team director, Alain Gallopin. I noticed that there was a section of cobbles and looked at the climb up to the finish,” he admitted.
“When I saw Albasini and Chavanel attacking on the hardest part of the climb, I was thinking about the fact that we’d spent the day defending the jersey. I’d seen the work my teammates had done all day with absolutely no help from the other teams and I decided the best form of defence is attack. Of course, I missed a chance to win another stage, but it still gave me a lot of confidence.”
Pressed on why he had continued his effort up to the line despite the lack of cooperation from Peter Sagan, the Swiss rider explained: “I’m not the kind of guy who gets to a point 500 metres from the line and decides he’s going to stop his effort. That’s not me. When I attack I go all the way to the finish. Of course, I’ve ended up second.”
He later reflected: “You never know what’s going to happen from one hour to the next or from one day to the next. That’s why I give it everything I can. I don’t want to reach a moment where I’ve got regrets about what I’ve done. I can say now that I’ve given 100 percent and that’s why I’m satisfied.”
Cancellara also spoke about the low points he has had since crashing out of the Tour of Flanders with a broken collarbone three months ago. “The hardest thing after the crash was coming to terms with having such great condition, as I think before the crash I was at my highest level ever, and spending five months working hard, then losing everything just because of a bidon.
"The problem for me is that I have very high expectations of myself when I’m riding. When I came back at the Bayern Rundfahrt and could see how big the difference was between my form then and how it had been in the races before the break it was hard to take on board. I’m not used to that, but I learned a lot from that situation.”
Clearly pleased with his performance despite losing out to Sagan, Cancellara admitted: “I’m looking forward to watching what I did today on TV and tomorrow we’ll keep on defending the yellow jersey. But I really hope the other teams will help out because it’s a flat stage that’s 100 percent for the sprinters.”
He continued: “I hope to bring the jersey to France, just as I have done in other years. Tomorrow we’ve got a sprinters’ stage so nothing should happen. We’ll see what happens in Boulogne-sur-Mer. I think that’s going to be a tricky stage with a hard final. We’ll have to see what happens with the weather and the wind. From there the race goes closer and closer to Switzerland.”
“Spartacus” is back and evidently not thinking of letting the yellow jersey go yet…
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).
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