Oudenaarde - Fabian Cancellara won his third Tour of Flanders, and second in a
row, in a four-up sprint to the line following 259km of racing from
Bruges to Oudenaarde on Sunday.
The Swiss powerhouse from the Trek
team beat Belgians Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) and
Stijn Vandenburgh (Omega Pharma) in a tense sprint following some
nervous jockeying in the final kilometre.
Cancellara, known as Spartacus in cycling circles, joined five other riders in winning a record three Tours of Flanders.
still don't know how I really managed all this. Maybe on television it
looks like I was playing, but I was just trying to go with these four
riders to the finish line and go man against man." the 33-year-old said.
knew I had one card to play: I never attacked, I was mostly on defence,
that's why I said 'go with them to the finish and give everything you
"To win in a sprint after the way I won last year (going solo) is really special."
After six hours 15 minutes of thrilling racing, Cancellara proved not only the strongest, but the master tactician.
First and foremost, just staying on the bike had proved a challenge in itself in a race marred by numerous crashes.
worst of which saw a 65-year-old female spectator suffer
life-threatening injuries, according to Belgian police, after being
knocked over by Belgian rider Johan Vansummeran, who was also taken to
hospital with suspected facial fractures.
Even the favourites were
going down as twice-former winner Stijn Devolder's chances were
scuppered by two crashes, 110km and 53km from the end.
crash, just before the first ascent of the Paterberg, contributed to a
major split in the peloton, which was reduced to about 30 riders.
a few others got back in touch, an attack from Norwegian Edvald Boassen
Hagen, Belgian Dries Devenyns and Vandenburgh eventually saw a lead
group reduced to 13 riders, including four from Omega Pharma.
they couldn't exploit that numerical advantage despite Vandenburgh
spending most of the last 38km as part of one lead group or another.
Avermaet had made an attack 31km from home with Vandenburgh, who was
working as a foil for three-time winner Tom Boonen, covering the move.
gave Van Avermaet no help but their break lasted until the final
difficulty of the race, the thigh-busting second ascent of the Paterberg
climb 12km from the end.
At that point Van Avermaet dropped his compatriot but by then, Cancellara and Vanmarcke were closing in.
Cancellara had made his move 5km earlier as he attacked the chase group on the third ascension of the tough Oude Kwaremont.
chase group had been a minute behind the two leaders but Cancellara's
attack, which was followed only by Vanmarcke, proved devastating and
quickly ate into the two leaders' gap.
"I tried to do something on Kwaremont and see how it goes," said Cancellara.
"I moved up with Sep to the two riders on the front."
Van Avermaets held on ahead of the trio behind for a few more kilometres but he was reeled in with 7km left.
still refused to help the other escapees but Cancellara bided his time
and when it came down to a game of cat and mouse inside the final few
hundred metres, he was the one who took the initiative and used his
strength to attack at just the right moment and make it stick.
came home in seventh place, just ahead of Britain's Geraint Thomas,
whose illustrious Sky teammate and compatriot Bradley Wiggins was 32nd,
1min 43sec down.
Results from the Tour of Flanders, the second of the Spring Classics held over 259.8km from Bruges to Oudenaarde on Sunday:
Fabian Cancellara (SUI/TRE) 6hr 15min 18sec, 2. Greg Van Avermaet
(BEL/BMC) same time, 3. Sep Vanmarcke (BEL/BKN) s.t., 4. Stijn
Vandenbergh (BEL/OPQ) s.t., 5. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/KAT) at 8sec, 6.
Niki Terpstra (NED/OPQ) 18, 7. Tom Boonen (BEL/OPQ) 35, 8. Geraint
Thomas (GBR/SKY) 37, 9. Bjorn Leukemans (BEL/WAN) 41, 10. Sebastian
Langeveld (NED/GRM) 43
16. Peter Sagan (SVK/CAN)
1:25, 17. Filippo Pozzato (ITA/LAM) s.t., 32. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY)
1:43, 86. Stijn Devolder (BEL/RSH) 9:49