Fabian Cancellara’s 16-kilometre solo attack to win the E3 Prijs yesterday in Belgium was a hard lesson. His rival teams took note and will likely adjust their racing style ahead of the big one, the Tour of Flanders next Sunday.
“It’s a lesson, but sadly the lesson is that you have to play everything negative and against Fabian, it’s not a style that any of my guys like to do,” said Garmin-Cervélo’s general manager, Jonathan Vaughters. “Realistically, you almost have to race just against him, I don’t like that racing style, but I don’t know.”
Brits Roger Hammond and Dan Lloyd helped team Garmin early in the day. The American team had Sep Vanmarcke in an all-day escape and then launched ace Heinrich Haussler with 50 kilometres to race, just after the sixth of 12 climbs, the cobbled Taaienberg.
Haussler, though, had no answer to Cancellara. Cancellara attacked on the Kwaremont to join an intermediate group and then charged ahead to catch the leaders. When he went, 16 kilometres from Harelbeke, the others could only look at each other.
“When Fabian is on that sort of ride,” added Vaughters, “you literally have to be right on him, you can’t be five metres off of him.”
Cancellara won the E3 Prijs last year in a three-man battle and annihilated the Flanders field a week later. It was a two-week winning period that only ended with Paris-Roubaix on the following Sunday. The repeat E3 Prijs win yesterday made Vaughters question how his super team is going to stop a super man. He has Haussler, World Champ Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar, but none seems able to beat Cancellara.
“In order to do it, you have to play a negative tactic that is just against him. You can eliminate him, but you risk losing the race because you are not watching the other 100 guys,” Vaughters continued.
“We will have to see how we play it, I don’t want to say, ‘OK guys, just beat Fabian. Stay on his wheel no matter what.’ We would then turn the race into a sh*t show.”
Farrar finished fifth last year and in 2009, Haussler took second, one minute behind Stijn Devolder. They will race with Hushovd and likely Andreas Klier, Hammond and Johan Van Summeren. Lloyd will probably earn one of the team’s eight spots, Vaughters said yesterday.