Fabian Cancellara could not manage to set the Tour of Flanders record of four wins in his last season. He admitted defeat to Peter Sagan, saying "I'm not Superman' after placing second in Oudenaarde, Belgium, this afternoon.
The Swiss classics specialist of team Trek-Segafredo is retiring at the end of 2016. In a sunny Flanders today, he chased Sagan's winning move over the Kwaremont and Paterberg climb, edged closer, but could not win the duel. He finished at 25 seconds to the world champion.
"Second is not first, but it's still not bad," Cancellara said when he arrived to Trek’s black bus parked in Oudenaarde's main square.
"I still don't know if I made a mistake or something went wrong. I did everything I could and gave it all I had, but I'm not Superman and I cannot do everything I want. Finishing second in my last Flanders is not what I wanted to have. I wanted to ride for history."
Cancellara is in a group of six three-time Flanders winners, including one other active rider Tom Boonen (Etixx–Quick-Step). Cancellara, though, will call it quits at the end of 2016 and not have another chance.
Watch: How Sagan won the Tour of Flanders
He saw his chance ride away when team Tinkoff's Peter Sagan and Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski attacked in the kilometres before the Kwaremont climb. He attacked on his own, joined Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo), but the two could not bridge to Sagan who rode solo from the Paterberg.
"It was a strange moment [when Sagan and Kwiatkowski attacked]. Sky had more numbers, I knew with so many riders you have to be careful. I can't jump behind everyone and I had to focus on a few," added Cancellara.
"I had to stay calm because I knew it was going to be hard. If I had a chance, it would be on the Paterberg or Kwaremont because the other teams had numbers. I had to gamble."
The 35-year-old will never race another big one-day race on the famous Flemish farm roads and climbs.
"My last time on Flemish roads, last time Flanders. There are many things," he said. "You think about what happened a week ago in Belgium with terrorism, but you see the people on the roads today... Cycling in Flanders is a unique thing. Flanders will always stay in my heart.
“I achieved many nice things here and I always have a lot of support here. I tried to enjoy the day, but in a bike race like this, you don't have time to enjoy it."
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