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“I did not have it in my mind to beat anyone, just on the yellow [jersey]. I was just behind Peter [Sagan] and I was waiting and waiting, and then all of a sudden they were going."

Photo: Sirotti

BAUKE MOLLEMA

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FABIAN CANCELLARA

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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05.07.2015 @ 21:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The expected wind and rain wreaked havoc in the peloton in stage two at the Tour de France but Trek Factory Racing’s Fabian Cancellara was all smiles after finishing third in the sprint from a decimated group to lay claim to a 29th day in the yellow jersey.

 

The first week in the Tour de France is always a stressful affair, but the added wind and wet roads in today’s flat stage that began in Utrecht and ended in Zélande saw a particularly nervous and jittery peloton, and when the hammer fell with some 60 kilometers still to race the peloton exploded.

 

 

“I had cramps at the end, it was so fast and nervous, but finally some luck,” smiled Cancellara.  “I had so much problems out of the corners, out of the roundabouts, the problem was from yesterday, I paid a lot – I mean everyone probably did - from yesterday’s effort.

 

“I am not sure what happened, if it was a crash or just a split, because the guys from Lotto-Soudal went full gas.  But we went through this small city and there were a lot of roundabouts and with the rain and wind…it was not easy and I was just there and suddenly the group split up.  I hoped for sure at the end to get something out and now of course with the yellow I am really happy.”

 

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) led out the sprint while Fabian Cancellara patiently waited in Peter Sagan’s (Tinkoff-Saxo) wheel. It played out perfectly for Cancellara as Cavendish faded in the final meters and Cancellara was able to come around for third place – and the precious bonus seconds – behind winner André Greipel (Lottos-Soudal) and Sagan respectively.

 

“I did not have it in my mind to beat anyone, just on the yellow [jersey]. I was just behind Peter [Sagan] and I was waiting and waiting, and then all of a sudden they were going! But it was so long to the finish still!  I just tried to get as close to the front as possible to maybe have a gap with Tony [Martin]," Cancellara.

 

“Honestly I was not expecting the yellow today, maybe in the next days, and the big chance on the cobblestone stage. Today, I thought it was more for the sprinters. I was coming to the Tour to win and get the yellow yesterday, and I didn’t win yesterday and not today, but I made a nice sprint at the end and I got third and the yellow and that is really a success. It’s always special.

 

"Coming to Utrecht I said this could be my last Tour de France and I didn't want to go home empty handed. Next year it'll start at the Mont-Saint-Michel with no time trial again so my big occasion was yesterday and I was very disappointed to miss out on the win and the yellow jersey.

 

"This morning I woke up early. I didn't have the best sleep. I looked at the nice weather and believed it would be an easy stage but as we started racing, everything changed. It became chaos like in a one-day race with a lot of wind and rain. At the team meeting, it was mostly about the weather conditions.

 

"I found myself in an unexpected situation. We went through a small town with roundabouts, the bunch split into pieces and I realized I was at the front with Tony [Martin] and Tom Dumoulin. I wanted to save energy for the sprint but I didn't have much left with 25km to go.

 

"I had to push a lot. I looked at the wheels of the three sprinters and I gave everything. Maybe with ten more meters of racing, I would have won, but I'm just happy that I got the yellow jersey.

 

"29 days in yellow mean a lot and eleven years after the first one is special. I was a little boy in Liège in 2004 and I had an amazing day. I'm kind of a veteran now. From those fifteen years as a pro, I have a lot of achievements and memories.

 

"I've gone through hard times too. After my crash in March this year, I've had one month off the bike so for the first time I enjoyed being at home with my family. Just moving was hurting. It wasn't like in 2012 when I came back pretty quickly after the operation. This time I was happy with my return to racing at the Tour des Fjords but I got sick before the Tour de Suisse and I suffered a lot. I didn't have good signals until last week-end. Now I've closed a chapter of bad luck.

 

While Trek Factory Racing celebrated the yellow jersey, they were not immune to the chaos that left many of the GC contenders almost a minute and a half behind at the finish. Bauke Mollema was in good hands until the critical moment of the race, and in one moment the tide had changed. 

 

“It was a really nervous stage all day, and there were a lot of crashes. With about 60kms to go - when everything split up - I was with Gregory (Rast) and Laurent (Didier) on the left side and then there was a crash and I lost them there," he said.

 

“That was a pity because I lost a lot of positions and was too far back to make it to the first group. My legs were good today, I was feeling good, and it was not the problem of the legs that I was not in the first group.

 

“But most of the GC riders were in my group at the finish and of course Fabian did a great sprint and we got yellow so it was a very nice day for the team.”

 

Trek Factory Racing heads into tomorrow’s third stage defending the yellow jersey, and the finish is at the top of the infamous Mur de Huy, a climb that Fabian Cancellara has never tackled.

 

“I have never done the Mur de Huy,” said Cancellara, then pointed out, “But anyway this is the Tour not Flèche Wallonne.

 

"With regards to tomorrow, the bad thing is that I've never done the Mur de Huy. But I don't look at this race like a Flèche wallone, I look at it like a Tour de France stage. I know what I'll have to do. It's pretty similar as today: ride at the front and avoid the chaos.

 

"I have in mind to not lose too much time tomorrow and make it up on the cobblestones. It'll be a new chapter of my career and I don't want to think further than this Tour de France. I'm totally focused on this race."

 

Today almost the entire team endured crashes or punctures with Gregory Rast and Laurent Didier first hitting the deck, followed by Markel Irizar later. It was a day of carnage and chaos as the Trek Factory Racing team car endured a limitless scramble in the caravan, tossing out new bikes and wheels almost endlessly.

 

Tomorrow the Classics specialists in the team will be ready. Bob Jungels, Laurent Didier, Julian Arredondo and Bauke Mollema know the Mur de Huy well, and the others have enough combined experience in the cobbled Classics to rally around Spartacus and keep the maillot jaune in the team for another day.

 

And, as all true champions when the pressure is on, Fabian Cancellara will rise to the occasion. 

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