“The big difference, it looks like it’s going to be nice weather,” said Cancellara. “And Cavendish weighs less than last year.”
The Swiss Champion of team RadioShack-Nissan spoke last night at the Hotel International in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy ahead of the final day of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Cavendish appears fitter than ever and encouraged to win again in his World Champion’s rainbow jersey. He pulled out of Monday’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage to Offida to rest prior to Milan-San Remo. The stage race ends today, Tuesday, with a 9.6km individual time trial.
“He had done enough this week,” Sky’s race coach, Rod Ellingworth told Cycling Weekly. “With the Milan-San Remo in mind, the hours he tried to cover were more than expected. He was tired and now needs to rest up.”
Cavendish won the second leg of the race on Wednesday with the help of Edvald Boasson Hagen. The next day, Boasson Hagen won a stage for himself ahead of André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
Cancellara needs to win San Remo with an attack, as he did at two kilometres out in 2008, or from a small group. For that to happen, his RadioShack team and other teams will need to make the race hard. Cancellara will want to avoid having Cavendish, Greipel and other sprinters for company.
“Can he [Cavendish] come back after the Poggio?” Cancellara continued. “And then he has to see how many riders he has left. So far, he hasn’t done something without a team-mate. He was just strong with team-mates. Is he still strong without team-mates? That’s the big question.”
The race snakes its way from Milan’s centre down to the Ligurian coast via the Turchino pass. In the last 100 kilometres, along the coast, the race comes alive. Cancellara and RadioShack could challenge the sprinters with Le Mànie climb at kilometre 204, the three Capi climbs between 245 and 258, the Cipressa at 275.9 or the Poggio at 291.8, 6.2 kilometres from the finish.
“When it’s nice weather, no” you can’t split the race, said Cancellara. “You have to save your energy for that one moment. It could be an attack on the Cipressa or the Poggio.”
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Oscar Freire (Katusha) came to mind when Cancellara named his favourites. “When the race goes slower,” he added, “then you have Cavendish.”
He won Italy’s first big one-day race, Strade Bianche on March 3 with a solo attack from 12 kilometres out. It was his first big win in a year. To his credit, besides Milan-San Remo in 2008, he has titles from the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix one-day classics.
“Strade Bianche gave me a lot of confidence and showed I’m on track.”
Update: Cancellara won the final time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico. Stage seven report here>>