Tour of Flanders – Fabian Cancellara wins his third


Fabian Cancellara (Trek) wins his third Tour of Flanders in a four up sprint after a thrilling race over the Belgian bergs

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Tour of Flanders – Fabian Cancellara wins his third

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara won his second in a row and third Tour of Flanders in a fantastic sprint finish after a thrilling Tour of Flanders. BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet was the rider of the race, attacking a long long way out and joined by Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) who didn’t do a tap under team orders.

No matter as most of the peloton never saw Greg Van Avermaet again as he powered along out front, with never much more than a 50 second lead and towing Vandenbergh along. Then, on the Pattenberg, last years winner Fabian Cancellera who was on a different level back then, attacked with Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin).

With Cancellera not event looking round to see who was on his wheel, he powered along to chase the two leaders. Van Avermaet was strong, dropping Vandenbergh on the Pattenberg before Cancellera and Vanmarcke swept up Vandenbergh and the three chased down Greg Van Avermaet.

The four leaders never had a great deal of a lead but then with such firepower in there, never looked like being caught either. Chased by first Kristoff who was then joined by Terpstra, the four leaders never had a lot of time to play with but in the closing kilometres there was plenty of cat and mouse. Vandenbergh tried a move and was quickly joined by Greg Van Avermaet.

At that point, Cancellera looked dead and buried as he sat up and Vanmarcke had to chase down the two leaders with fabulous Fabian in tow. Once the four were together, Cancellera tried a dig but he didn’t have the power to blow them away like he has in previous races.

It was a sprint and Vandenbergh went with 800 to go but wasn’t able to gap his rivals. In the finale of the sprint, Cancellera made the first move and was never headed as Greg Van Avermaet gave chase all the way to the line with Vanmarcke in third.

“I tried to ask Dirk [Demol] through the radio how many seconds we had because the last thing I wanted was the others coming back,” explained Cancellara soon after the race had finished.

“That would have been the end of the world. For the spectators at home I am sure it was an exciting track final. It was man against man and I just kept pushing to the end. I did it for the team, and for my wife because I promised to bring the flowers home. I feel sorry for the Belgians. I was against three Belgians at the end…. but now I am happy and it’s time to go rock the bus and have a nice evening.”

On the Kwaremont, with only the Paterberg climb remaining, Cancellara launched a brutal attack that only Sep Vanmarcke could follow, leaving the other favorites scrambling behind. Over the top they would grab back the two leaders, first Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and moments later Greg Van Avermaet. This would be the final four-man selection.

“Since I was alone, I knew I had to make the selection up the Kwaremont. On the Paterberg I could not go more, I was dead, and then I had to make a gamble to stay with Vandenbergh, Vanmarcke and Van Avermaet. I wanted to finish alone, but today it was better to wait for the sprint. Winning solo was the goal – I wanted to lift the bike over the line – but I was not afraid to sprint at the end, since then it is each man for himself; I still don’t know how I did it, I just did it”.

“The race was quite intense, quite hard. We lost a lot of riders to crashes straightaway. To manage a race like this was amazing. Everyone did his little piece – Jesse [Sergent], Markel [Irazar], Hayden [Roulston], all the team – you need these little pieces to be at the top of the pyramid”.

“It was so tough, I almost got dropped two times when they attacked. I don’t know, everything went well in the end. It’s just amazing. Last year I won in an amazing way here, but to repeat, this is even bigger – I have no words. There is no Monday, we said with the team before the race.”

Bad luck for iron man Devolder
The 259 kilometer race came down to a riveting tactical battle as Fabian Cancellara had to play a cool hand with no teammates remaining, most victims of crashes that marred the race all day.

The first major crash for the team happened with 112 kilometers to go, which took down Stijn Devolder and Gregory Rast. A few kilometers later Yaroslav Popovych would hit the tarmac hard, resulting in a trip to the hospital.

“The only thing I knew is that I hit a lady in red with my handlebar. There is nothing broken, I am lucky,” said Yaroslav Popovych when reached at the hospital. “I may have a torn tendon in the hip. I could not walk at first and I was thinking the worst. I am very sad not to be able to finish the race, and especially to help at the end.”

It would not be the last crash for the team, as Stijn Devolder would go down for the second time just before the penultimate ascent of the Paterberg. “A lot of bad luck,” said a disappointed Devodler. “My elbow is really bad, my back too, and it was too much to continue. I really wanted to do the last 40k of the race. I am really disappointed because I know I could be there with Fabian at the end”.

“After the first crash Gregy [Rast] got me back on, he helped me a lot, and I came back to the first group pretty easy. Just before the second crash I went back to the car and said, ‘I feel really good today,’ and then in one second everything changed. After the second crash I had to change the bike, and the car was not there so I had to go for 5k before I could change it. It was just in a bad moment. In the end I am really happy that Fabian won, that makes this all feel better.”

Sep Vanmarcke Third
“In the last kilometres, I was having cramps and I said to myself, ‘I have to finish on the podium,'” said Vanmarcke. “I decided to play safe. I even closed a gap myself as otherwise I knew I could end up fourth. I’m happy with my third place, but now, slowly, a sense of disillusionment hits me. If I had started the sprint earlier, you never know what could had happen.”

The road to the podium was not without a struggle for Vanmarcke. In the first part of the race, the Belgian hit tarmac hard. “I fell right on my neck and was suffering for quite a while. I also wasted some power returning to the peloton, but the team continued to motivate me and after the first cobblestone section, I found my rhythm again. I started believing in my chances again. When I told my team-mates that, it motivated them. It was very hectic today, but after my crash, I never got into trouble thanks to my team-mates. That was great.”

It was a strong ride from the Brits with Thomas at or near the front all day as was Luke Rowe. Thomas finished 8th.

The race had begun with Alex Dowsett (Movistar) doing his best to get in a break but it took a long while before finally a group did escape. Taylor Phinney (BMC), Darryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE), Raymond Kreder (Garmin-Sharp), Wesley Kreder (Wanty Group), Alexander Kuchynski (Katusha), Andrea Palini (Lampre Merida), James Vanlandschoot (Wanty Group), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen), Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Belisol) and Romain Zingle (Cofidis).

The bergs and pace saw the group shrink rider by rider until only a few remained and from them, Phinney and Impey were the last to hold out against the marauding selection behind that too was getting smaller and smaller but sweeping up all in its path.

The pace, even with 100k to go, was like that in the final few k of a sprint stage and Omega Pharma Quickstep had numbers up there but when the key move came, they only had Vandenbergh there and he was hanging by a thread. Favourite and a rider after his fourth win, Tom Boonen too was hanging and when Cancellera went with Van Avermaet, Quickstep again failed to get a rider in the wheels.

They were not the only losers. Peter Sagan was looking strong but when the selection of a dozen or so was made, he was isolated and even when teammates joined him, and chased the two leaders Vandenbergh and Greg Van Avermaet, Sagan was never really a threat.

It was a thrilling race in that selections were made, gaps opened and then closed only for a crash or attack to turn everything on its head again. No sooner had a tweet been made about an attack before a counter was made and the tweet was old news. Many a TV shot saw as many as three groups in the same shot as the leaders with the gaps never that big but for the winner Cancellera, he may not have had the best legs but he certainly had the best tactics and it showed.

Sagan – I did not perform as I wanted
“It’s never easy to comment on a disappointing result and there aren’t many words to say right now. I did not perform as I wanted in a key moment of the race. When Cancellara and Vanmarcke attacked on the Oude Kwaremont I wasn’t not able to push hard enough to follow them.”

“Simply no other reasons. Besides this, there was no cooperation in the group to close the gap. I think many riders felt like me; it was a tough race as always. Congrats to Cancellara and to the others who finished on the podium. Maybe it was just a negative day. If I had ridden yesterday, for sure I was able to win,” which he uttered with a smile.

1 CANCELLARA Fabian Trek Factory Racing 06:15:18
2 VAN AVERMAET Greg BMC Racing Team
3 VANMARCKE Sep Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
4 VANDENBERGH Stijn Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5 KRISTOFF Alexander Team Katusha 00:08
6 TERPSTRA Niki Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 00:18
7 BOONEN Tom Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 00:35
8 THOMAS Geraint Team Sky 00:37
9 LEUKEMANS Bjorn Wanty – Groupe Gobert 00:41
10 LANGEVELD Sebastian Garmin Sharp 00:43
11 JEROME Vincent Team Europcar 01:12
12 BURGHARDT Marcus BMC Racing Team
13 SøRENSEN Nicki Tinkoff-Saxo 01:15
14 DEVENYNS Dries Team Giant-Shimano 01:19
15 DEGENKOLB John Team Giant-Shimano 01:25
16 SAGAN Peter Cannondale
17 POZZATO Filippo Lampre-Merida
18 STYBAR Zdenek Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
19 CHAVANEL Sylvain IAM Cycling
20 MINARD Sébastien AG2R La Mondiale
21 OFFREDO Yoann
22 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald Team Sky
23 GALLOPIN Tony Lotto Belisol
24 DE VREESE Laurens Wanty – Groupe Gobert 01:35
25 GATTO Oscar Cannondale 01:41
26 KEISSE Iljo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 01:43
27 MONDORY Lloyd AG2R La Mondiale
28 CHAINEL Steve AG2R La Mondiale
29 KONOVALOVAS Ignatas MTN – Qhubeka
30 TANKINK Bram Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
31 BARTA Jan Team NetApp – Endura
32 WIGGINS Bradley Team Sky
33 AMADOR Andrey Movistar Team
34 WYNANTS Maarten Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
35 WAEYTENS Zico Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
36 PAOLINI Luca Team Katusha 03:52
37 KEUKELEIRE Jens Orica GreenEDGE
38 BODNAR Maciej Cannondale
39 PICHOT Alexandre Team Europcar
40 PHINNEY Taylor BMC Racing Team 04:12
41 SABATINI Fabio Cannondale
42 BROECKX Stig Lotto Belisol
43 VAN EMDEN Jos Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
44 VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
45 SELVAGGI Mirko Wanty – Groupe Gobert
46 DILLIER Silvan BMC Racing Team
47 FARRAR Tyler Garmin Sharp
48 LEMOINE Cyril Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
49 BOZIC Borut Astana Pro Team
50 TURGOT Sébastien AG2R La Mondiale
51 HAYMAN Mathew Orica GreenEDGE
52 IMPEY Daryl Orica GreenEDGE
53 DEMPSTER Zakkari Team NetApp – Endura
54 DE KORT Koen Team Giant-Shimano
55 ERVITI Imanol Movistar Team
56 QUINZIATO Manuel BMC Racing Team
57 LONGO BORGHINI Paolo Cannondale
58 TRENTIN Matteo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
59 GRIVKO Andriy Astana Pro Team 07:41
60 EISEL Bernhard Team Sky
61 STUYVEN Jasper Trek Factory Racing
62 ROWE Luke Team Sky
63 BONNET William
64 JANSE VAN RENSBURG Reinardt Team Giant-Shimano
65 PUCCIO Salvatore Team Sky
66 BAK Lars Ytting Lotto Belisol 08:17
67 LEEZER Tom Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
68 VAN HECKE Preben Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
69 LADAGNOUS Matthieu
70 SCHAR Michael BMC Racing Team
71 VAN ASBROECK Tom Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
72 VANBILSEN Kenneth Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
73 GARCíA ETXEGIBEL Egoitz Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
74 KOREN Kristjan Cannondale
75 MARTINEZ Yannick Team Europcar
76 PINEAU Jérome IAM Cycling
77 GUSEV Vladimir Team Katusha
78 THWAITES Scott Team NetApp – Endura 09:49
79 IRIZAR ARANBURU Markel Trek Factory Racing
80 TJALLINGII Maarten Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
81 BAUER Jack Garmin Sharp
82 TSATEVICH Alexey Team Katusha
83 MARANGONI Alan Cannondale
84 JUUL-JENSEN Christopher Tinkoff-Saxo
85 CURVERS Roy Team Giant-Shimano
86 DEVOLDER Stijn Trek Factory Racing
87 BANDIERA Marco Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela
88 SINKELDAM Ramon Team Giant-Shimano
89 VAN BAARLE Dylan Garmin Sharp
90 HUSHOVD Thor BMC Racing Team
91 CIMOLAI Davide Lampre-Merida
92 JõEääR Gert Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
93 BOOM Lars Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
94 COUSIN Jérôme Team Europcar
95 KNEES Christian Team Sky
96 KLUGE Roger IAM Cycling 12:25
97 DOCKER Mitchell Orica GreenEDGE 12:38
98 HEPBURN Michael Orica GreenEDGE
99 THOMSON Jay Robert MTN – Qhubeka
100 KUCHYNSKI Aliaksandr Team Katusha
101 VANLANDSCHOOT James Wanty – Groupe Gobert
102 KROON Karsten Tinkoff-Saxo


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