As expected, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) won the Tour of Switzerland on Sunday by gaining more than two minutes on all his rivals in the final 39km time trial around his home town of Berne.
Cancellara started the time trial four seconds down on Tadej Valjavc (Ag2r) in the overall standings. But he quickly passed the little Slovenian and even caught 2008 winner Roman Kreizuger in the final kilometres of the time trial.
Cancellara sat up and put his arms in the air as he crossed the line, rightly celebrating his first victory in a major stage race. He beat Tony Martin (Columbia) in the time trial by 1:25, with Thomas Dekker (Silence) third at 1:40.
In the overall standings, Cancellara beat Tony Martin by 2:02. Kreuziger was third at 2:24, while Valjavec slipped to fifth at a massive 3:18.
Cancellara’s huge build and power has helped him win two world time trial titles, gold in the time trial in Beijing, Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. He will never be a stage race or Tour de France contender but won the Tour of Switzerland thanks to two powerful rides in the opening and closing time trials and consistently strong rides on the climbs.
The Tour of Switzerland usually includes some of the hardest and highest climbs in Europe but gave Cancellara a huge hand by hiding the toughest climbs early on stages and by choosing relatively easy finish climbs.
Cancellara fought to hang on the climbs and was helped by Frank and Andy Schleck, but confirmed yet again he is far more than just a time trialist. He is the first Swiss rider to win the Tour of Switzerland since Alex Zuelle in 2002.
“This is one of the best ever wins on my career,” Cancellara said emotionally after hugging his wife and daughter, and holding back the tears.
“I knew I had a chance of winning when I saw the race route but I knew to do it that I had to gain as much time as possible in the time trials.”
“I went really deep on the uphill finishes because I’m not a climber but it was worth it. I managed to limit my losses and set up my shot at overall victory.”
“It was great to win in the final time trial like that and great to seal victory at home in front of my family and thousands of people who support me.”
Cancellara’s next objective is the opening time trial stage at the Tour de France on July 4 in Monaco, where he will be looking to win and pull on the first yellow jersey for a third time.
Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) will be his biggest rival in the tough time trial and perhaps the only one who can stop him
Stage nine: Bern-Bern ITT, 39km
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank in 45-59
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 1-27
3. Thomas Dekker (Ned) Silence-Lotto at 1-42
4. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 1-43
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step at 1-48
6. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-50
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 2-00
8. Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas at 2-02
9. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 2-09
10. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo at 2-14
105. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 5-23
Final overall classification
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank in 33-05-51
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 2-02
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 2-24
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 2-50
5. Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Katusha at 3-18
6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre at 3-23
7. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r at 3-45
8. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 4-04
9. Kim Kirchen (Lux) Columbia-Highroad at same time
10. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Columbia-Highroad at 4-08
115. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 1-14-36
Tony Martin moved up to second overall after a strong TT ride
Thomas Dekker was third on the stage behind Cancellara and Martin
Fabian Cancellara was in a league of his own in the final time trial to take the overall win
Stage eight: Cancellara sets up overall victory