Swiss ace Fabian Cancellara won the one-day classic Tour of Flanders for the second time on Sunday. The 32-year-old 2008 Olympic time-trial champion – nicknamed ‘Spartacus’ – came home clear at the end of the 256km ride from Bruges ahead of Slovakian Peter Sagan while Jurgen Roelandts of Belgium was third.
Cancellara, also a four-time world time-trial champion, won his previous Tour of Flanders in 2010 but returned for this edition with bad memories of last year’s race where he crashed and fractured his collarbone.
“A year ago, I was lying on the ground and a difficult period of my life had begun,” said Cancellara. “Since January I can count on the fingers of one hand the days I have spent at home. It is a choice that I made and my family understood because I wouldn’t have many other occasions to win this in my career. I dedicate this victory to my family, my wife and children, and also to the team who worked brilliantly for me. This second win is the best possible Easter present that we (the team) could have hoped for. I will be able to celebrate it a little today and then to think calmly about next Sunday (Paris-Roubaix).”
Whilst Sagan was able to stay on Cancellara’s wheel on the Kwaremont he was unable to stay with the merciless pace of the Swiss rider on the Paterberg, 13km from the finish. Cancellara left alone like in a time-trial never faltered as he rode to the line to win his fifth major classic of his career.
Sagan conceded that Cancellara had been the better rider on the day, but was delighted to have taken second. “I am happy with my race, I have time on my side to eventually win this very difficult race,” said the 23-year-old Sagan. “I fell 100 kilometers from the finish, someone braked in front of me. I came back and I did my best to win but Cancellara was the strongest.”
The early part of the race had seen defending champion and home favorite Tom Boonen crash out after 19 kilometers.
The three-time winner of the race was treated in hospital for bruising to the elbow, left hip and right knee but x-rays revealed no broken bones.
“Today, the pain was to be my lot. We look to next year,” tweeted Boonen.
1. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/RadioShack) 6hr 05:58
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) at 1min 26sec
3. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) 1:28
4. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) 1:38,
5. Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA) same time
6. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) s.t.
7. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) s.t.
8. Sebastien Turgot (FRA) s.t.
9. John Degenkolb (GER) s.t.
10. Sebastian Langeveld (GER) s.t.