Antwerp - Fabian Cancellara said if he loses the Tour de France yellow
jersey on the Mur de Huy, he can get it back on the cobbles a day later.
The 34-year-old Swiss time trial and one-day classics specialist missed out
on the yellow jersey by six seconds on Saturday's opening stage, a time trial
But as Australian Rohan Dennis got caught behind crashes and crosswinds on
Sunday, Cancellara snatched the race lead by just three seconds from Tony
Cancellara finished third behind Andre Greipel and Peter Sagan on the 166km
second stage from Utrecht to Zeeland and took four bonus seconds on the line,
propelling him over Martin into the yellow jersey as Dennis came home almost a
minute and a half behind.
Monday's third stage finishes with a short, sharp 1.3km climb called the Mur
(wall) du Huy.
It is the traditional finish for the Fleche Wallonne Ardennes classic race
in April which was won by Spaniard Alejandro Valverde these last two years.
Cancellara has never raced the Ardennes Classics as he is a cobbled classics
specialist and three-time winner of both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of
Tuesday's fourth stage takes in some of the cobbled sections used for Paris-Roubaix
and the Trek rider believes that would give him the chance to regain the lead
should he lose it on Monday.
"The bad thing is I never did the Mur de Huy so (Monday) will be a
premier," he said.
"At the end I don't look at it as the Fleche, it's the Tour de France
and that's good enough.
"I know what I have to do (Monday), ride at the front and be out of the
chaos. (Sunday) was the same.
"In my head was actually to look at (Monday) to not lose too much time
and then maybe get it back on the cobbled stage.
"I'm looking positively for (Monday) because a new chapter is coming in
my career as a rider: to ride up the Mur de Huy."
Cancellara may just keep the yellow jersey as the two riders within striking
distance of him are not Ardennes Classics specialists either.
Martin is at 3sec with Tom Dumoulin at 6sec but both, like Cancellara, are
Perhaps Sagan in fourth or Geraint Thomas in fifth at 33sec and 35sec
respectively could do something but they would have to make up around half a
minute depending on whether they can take time bonuses on the line.
That's unlikely, though, as both are working for a team leader - Alberto
Contador and Chris Froome respectively - and there are many more specialist
punchers likely to be vying for victory.
But the closest of those are Roman Kreuziger, another Contador team-mate, and
Michal Kwiatkowski, who are both more than a minute behind.
Valverde is more than two minutes down while Irishman Daniel Martin and
another Spaniard, Joaquim Rodrigiez are almost 3min back.
Meanwhile, Greipel paid tribute to his lead-out man Marcel Sieberg for
helping him not only win the second stage but also take the green points jersey
for the first time in his career.
"He's not just a good rider, he's my best friend. We've known each
other since I'm riding my bike," said the 32-year-old of his compatriot
and Lotto Soudal teammate.
"He's the most reliable rider for me, he's pretty smart in the way he's
riding his bike.
"It means a lot to have a rider like him in the team because he's the
kind of rider everybody looks up to and is listening to."