It should come as no surprise that Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) powered to victory in Wednesday’s opening prologue at the Tour of Luxembourg.
Spartacus roared over the 2.7km course in 3 minutes, 42 seconds, taking a five-second victory to Damien Gaudin (Europcar), with Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur Sojasun) stopping the clock in 3:50.
The victory is Cancellara’s third of the season, with two of them coming in races against the clock. He also won the ITT at Tirreno-Adriatico in March and the semi-classic E3 Prijs Vlaanderen. Cancellara dedicated the win to his late teammate Wouter Wylandt who was killed in a fall at the Giro d’Italia.
“It’s been a long time for me since my victory in E3-prijs Harelbeke. I feel very motivated now for all that is coming,” said Cancellara. I wanted to get a personal win and a win for the team, but I especially wanted to ride the perfect race after our loss a few weeks ago. This win is for Wouter.”
The win comes on the heels of his loss to Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the time trial at the Bayern-Rundfahrt on Saturday.
“The problem with time trials is that when it’s over, you always think about what went wrong and where you lost some time,” said Cancellara. “Even when I win, like today, I always find something that I could have done better. The short effort required during a prologue like this one does not correspond with what we do during a normal race. That’s why it’s so interesting.”
Cancellara’s team mate Martin Mortensen was the first rider to break the 4-minute mark. His early fast time of 3:56 kept him in the hot seat for the first third of the race. Mortensen ended the day in eighth.
“This is a good start for the team,” Leopard-Trek director Kim Andersen said. “Martin put in a great effort. And the climbers, on our team, but also the ones in the other teams, are grouped together in the GC. With the first stage behind us, we have a lot of work to do.”
Cancellara and Andersen both expressed appreciation for the support the Luxembourg-based squad received during the stage.
“The people of Luxembourg are really cycling-obsessed,” Cancellara said. “They are crazy about the sport in a positive way.”
The Luxembourg tour continues Thursday with the 192.8km first stage from Luxembourg to Bascherange.
“The course is up and down all day,” noted Andersen. “It corresponds to what the geography of the country is like.”
- 1. Fabian CANCELLARA, (SUI) Leopard-Trek, in 3:42
- 2. Damien GAUDIN, (FRA) Europcar, at 5
- 3. Jimmy ENGOULVENT, (FRA) Saur-Sojasun, at 8
- 4. Romain FEILLU, (FRA) Vacansoleil-DCM, at 11
- 5. Mathew HAYMAN, (AUS) Team Sky, at 11