Fabian Cancellara dreams of winning the Tour of Flanders solo again this Sunday in Oudenaarde, Belgium.
“The worst case scenario is to have two riders on my back wheel,” he said at a press conference in Bruges. “The best is to be alone on the front. What counts is passing the line in the first position.”
He has been thinking about Flanders and recent races at his home in Bern, Switzerland. Over a barbecue on Wednesday, he must of thought of how Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) got the best of him in Milan-San Remo. He launched a gutsy attack, but was followed to the line and beaten.
The Swiss attacked on the Oude Kwaremont in the E3 Harelbeke on Friday, but suffered a puncture near the top and then was T-boned by Carlos Barredo. He tried to break the race apart in Ghent-Wevelgem two days later, but saw it re-form for a sprint win by key rival Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
He arrived in Bruges, Belgium, today at 13:45 to join his RadioShack-Nissan team-mates at the pre-Flanders hotel. It is a new start and a chance to put San Remo and the other races behind him.
“I can’t control bad luck,” he said as cameras clicked and dictaphones recorded. “A crash or a puncture… I can’t think about it because I can’t do anything about it.”
The journalists talked of a duel – man-to-man, head-to-head – between him and Boonen. The two are the bookmakers’ favourites. Everyone envisions a fight up one of the cobbled climbs as they had when Cancellara dropped Boonen to win on the Muur-Kapelmuur in 2010. This year, the organiser re-routed the course to finish in Oudenaarde; it skips the Muur and may not even see a duel between the two champions.
Boonen won in 2005 and 2006, and is on form with seven wins so far this season.
“I know all the Belgians talk about the big duel, but I must say I’m concentred on myself first,” Cancellara said.
“Tom was there in 2010 and 2011, but he had bad luck. Bad luck and luck comes and goes. Tom wants to win, but Sylvain Chavanel wants to win as well. But look, many favourites may surprise us: Peter Sagan, Sep Vanmarcke or Filippo Pozzato.
“My hope is to arrive solo. I don’t want have anyone on my back wheel, so then I can say the strongest guy won.”