Spartacus is back.
Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) put on a display at Saturday’s Strade Bianche winning by over 40 seconds ahead of Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) and Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini – Selle Italia).
With less than 12k to go, Cancellara dropped the hammer and never looked back, taking his second career win in Strade Bianche. It’s the first season 2012 win for his Radioshack-Nissan-Trek squad.
“I’m very happy. Today was a special day,” said Cancellara. “This is a nice win. The Strade Bianche is a race that is booming and again it offered some really attractive racing. The team had a precise tactic today and all the little things just came together. Ben Hermans was in the first break and then when the elite group formed, Bennati did a fantastic job by attacking. I could stay calm behind and let the teams work that had more than one rider in the group.”
Given the mix of hard-packed dirt and pavement, the Strade Bianche course is one well-suited to Cancellara. “This race is similar to Roubaix, I think, and it’s really important to be in the front when you hit one of the sectors. On the second to last climb, when Daniele was still out there, I saw that everybody was really tired, so I decided to try something on the last climb.”
With about 40km to go, teammate Daniele Bennati escaped from a small lead group with Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale). Oss was eventually dropped, leaving Bennati to ride alone off the front. Meanwhile, Cancellara sat in the main field while Garmin-Barracuda’s Johan vansummeren and the BMC squad began to pull Bennati back. BMC’s Greg van Avermaet then launched an attack from the group. “When Greg van Avermaet went, I bridged across and when I looked back there was a gap,” explained Cancellara. “I knew that I had to keep the momentum. It’s not really like I attacked there, because I was on my limit, but I just kept going.”
From that point on, Cancellara went into his familiar TT mode, turning over the pedals and eventually riding away from the group of five chasers that included Allesandro Ballan (BMC), and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar). Cancellara gapped the group over a small rise in the road, and by the time Cancellara arrived in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, he was all alone with 42-seconds in hand to celebrate his second victory in Strade Bianche.
“Today I won because I’m mentally 100 percent strong,” said the Swiss national champion. “You have mental strength and physical strength. Physically I’m not yet 100 percent.”
“When I was ‘time trialing’ to the finish, I wanted to gain as much time as possible, to be sure of the win, because the streets in Siena are really steep. I thought about my uncle, who passed away a couple of days ago. The sign I made when I crossed the finish line was for him. This win is for him,” said an emotional Cancellara.