Fabian Cancellara wins Strade Bianche

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) kick-started his 2012 season with a dominant display in Saturday’s Strade Bianche. The 2008 champion finished 42 seconds clear of Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) and Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia). The BMC duo of Alessandro Ballan and Greg Van Avermaet were forced to settle for 4th and 5th, despite being two of the main protagonists in the race.

Until today RadioShack-Nissan had been shy of wins outside of team classifications but if all the plaudits are directed towards Cancellara then surely this was as good as a team performance the Luxembourg squad has displayed this season.

"I still hadn’t won this year and so it’s great to win this race," Cancellara said.

Present in the first significant break of the day with Ben Hermans, RadioShack-Nissan was able to save its reserves for the most testing sections of dirt roads in the final 60 kilometres. After 10 kilometres the day’s first significant break formed. Marco Pinotti (BMC), Claudio Corioni (Acqua & Sapone), Borut Bozic (Astana), Marco Coledan (Colnago-CSF Inox), Jarlinson Pantano and Juan Suarez (Colombia - Coldeportes), Kevin Hulsmans (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia), Massimo Graziato (Lampre), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale), Ramon Sinkeldam (Project 1T4i), Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Nissan), and Gabriele Bosisio (Utensilnord Named) built up a healthy lead, and allowed for Cancellara and the rest of his team to remain in the safety of the bunch.

With the early break caught after 135 kilometres, and the first major selection made soon after, Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) broke free from the leading group with 38 kilometres to go. He was marked by Liquigas-Cannondale’s Daniel Oss and the two gradually built up a gap of 40 seconds as BMC and Garmin-Barracuda began to chase.

But Oss was no match for Bennati and on a small, but steep, rise the Liquigas man was quickly dispatched. Bennati gave one look back before tucking into an aero position and pressing on alone. With him up the road and Cancellara finally isolated from his teammates, the Italian had no option but to press on.

Cancellara, meanwhile, kept a low profile in the group of favourites, as BMC, Astana and Garmin’s Johan Vansummeren began to drag Bennati back.

On the 6th strade bianche sector, San Giovanni, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) cut a menacing figure on the front of the chase group and along with Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) began to detach weaker riders still in contention.

Ballan was the next rider to try and make a decisive move with 21 kilometres remaining and while his telegraphed attack saw the likes of Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) go into the red, he was matched by nearly all of the main contenders.

But it wasn’t until just before the 8th strade bianche sector that the race winning move was created. Van Avermaet, again the aggressor, came to the front, Ballan left a small gap and the Belgian threw down a brutish acceleration. For the first time Cancellara moved to the front.

Just before the top of the dusty climb the 2008 winner caught Van Avermaet, with Ballan and Iglinskiy desperately trying to come on terms, knowing that if Cancellara had even the slightest gap on the descent he would be difficult to catch. But in no time Superman had flown.

Over the top Cancellara assessed the damage behind and with a 50 meter gap, decided to press on.

In a flashback to the Tour of Flanders in 2011, this was BMC versus Cancellara, as Ballan and Van Avermaet organised their chase. Iglinskiy, joined by his Astana teammate Roman Kreuziger, plus Gatto also made the selection, creating a formidable chasing pack of five over the final testing ten kilometres.

The smoothness in pedal stroke and relaxed posture were missing and this was not the same Cancellara that romped to the Flanders-Roubaix double in 2010 and certainly not the Superman who rode through a lead group in E3 last year, but the Swiss time trialist appeared to have the measure of his rivals, increasing his lead to over 30 seconds.

However the gap dropped to 20 seconds with 7 kilometers remaining, giving the chasers the briefest of hopes. But when Ballan took a wrong turn at a roundabout the chase lost its momentum. The Italian was able to rejoin the chase group but by then Cancellara’s lead was touching a minute.

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Full Results
1Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan4:44:59
2Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:00:42
3Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:46
5Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:48
6Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team0:01:03
7Francesco Reda (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:01:45
8Francesco Ginanni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:01:47
9Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 8 - Cell 2
10Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda0:01:57
11Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan0:03:58
12Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 11 - Cell 2
13Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 14 - Cell 2
16Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team0:04:02
17Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Project 1T4i0:07:50
18Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack-NissanRow 17 - Cell 2
19Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin - BarracudaRow 18 - Cell 2
20Patxi Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Utensilnord NamedRow 19 - Cell 2
21Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 20 - Cell 2
22Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Type 1 - SanofiRow 22 - Cell 2
24Rémi Cusin (Fra) Team Type 1 - SanofiRow 23 - Cell 2
25Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 25 - Cell 2
27Luca Ascani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 26 - Cell 2
28Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 27 - Cell 2
29Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 28 - Cell 2
30Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 31 - Cell 2
33Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 32 - Cell 2
34Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle ItaliaRow 33 - Cell 2
35Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - BarracudaRow 34 - Cell 2
36Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre - ISDRow 35 - Cell 2
37Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 36 - Cell 2
38Angelo Pagani (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 37 - Cell 2
39Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 38 - Cell 2
40Filippo Savini (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 39 - Cell 2
41José Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 41 - Cell 2
43Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 42 - Cell 2
44Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Team Type 1 - SanofiRow 43 - Cell 2
45Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-NissanRow 44 - Cell 2
46Sergey Renev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 45 - Cell 2
47Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar TeamRow 46 - Cell 2
48Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-NissanRow 48 - Cell 2
50Daniele Colli (Ita) Team Type 1 - SanofiRow 49 - Cell 2
51Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack-NissanRow 50 - Cell 2
52Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 51 - Cell 2


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