Cancellara owns white road of Strade Bianche
In their final season, some riders might wind down a long career with a relaxed farewell tour. Dial it back, chill a bit, bask in the warm goodbyes.
Not Fabian Cancellara.
He’s going out the same way he came in: fast and furious and imperial. Such was his strength in winning his third Strade Bianche that he essentially towed last years’ winner Zdenek Stybar for the final 18 kilometers and still beat him to the finish line.
Think about that for a second. Stybar, who himself has won two editions of Strade Bianche, got a free ride for those 18K and still didn’t have the power or race tactics to beat Cancellara — even when his own teammate Gianluca Brambilla was up the road.
Stybar was as tight on Cancellara as possible in the final stretch up through Sienna but didn’t have enough gas in the tank to make the winning move.
For Cancellara, it was not only a big win but a classic turn-back-the-clock moment. As was the case so often in his career, being the strong man means you do all the grunt work. Etixx-Quickstep played a two man game with Stybar and Brambilla and yet their combined strength wasn’t enough.
Cancellara knew he had to be smart dealing with Etixx-Quickstep’s numerical superiority. “I had to play at the end, it was a lottery. I knew I had to risk. I had trust in myself; it was experience. I knew that Etixx was going to play the team game and I just had to make sure that Brambilla did not take too much time.”
While we have yet to get a clear, definitive indication of form for Tom Boonen as we draw near Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, it’s obvious Cancellara will be back to full Spartacus mode.
Cancellara sure doesn’t look like a rider headed to retirement. As long-time teammate Frank Schleck told Velonews, Schleck is an extraordinary athlete. “The way he pedals, the way he turns the legs. Even with his weight, the speed he has in the pedals, that’s why he has the power,” Schleck said. “He is so reliable. He is so powerful. When he says, ‘I am going to be ready,’ you can bet he will be.”
Schleck summed up Cancellara with storybook admiration. “Fabian is the golden child. There are not many races he hasn’t won, or hasn’t left his footprints on. He is special.”
He was certainly golden on the white roads of Strade Bianche.