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With rain starting to fall minutes before his start, Cancellara came back from a slow start to beat Roelandts by less than a second in the Tour de Suisse prologue; Durbridge was third and Cancellara is the first leader

Photo: Sirotti

FABIAN CANCELLARA

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JURGEN ROELANDTS

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LUKE DURBRIDGE

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TOUR DE SUISSE

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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11.06.2016 @ 19:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Fabian Cancellara (Trek) finally achieved one of his pre-season goals when he won a dramatic prologue in his home race, the Tour de Suisse. After light rain had started to fall just as he started his ride, he seemed to be out of contention at the time check but a fantastic finish allowed him to beat Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) by less than a second to take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey. Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) was less than two seconds behind in third.

 

Fabian Cancellara had lots of lofty goals for his final season in the pro peloton and when he won Strade Bianche in March, he seemed to be on track for a great year. However, bad luck has marred his throughout the spring and he has been far from the fairytale end he was hoping for.

 

It all started when he was involved in a crash at E3 Harelbeke and then continued at Paris.Roubaix where he crashed dramatically on the cobbles. He hoped to bounce back by taking the maglia rosa in the Giro d’Italia prologue but when he fell ill a few days before the race, the Italian grand tour ended as a massive disappointment.

 

Cancellara has now hit the reset button and goes into the summer with new goals. One of them was to get a final stint in yellow in his home race, the Tour de Suisse, and with a relatively flat and technical 6.4km prologue to kick things off, he couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.

 

However, a risk of rain throughout the entire afternoon made it a bit of a lottery to choose the right start position. Unlike many others, Cancellara opted for a late start, rolling down the ramp as the penultimate rider, and that decision nearly cost him the win.

 

The early riders had had wet roads which gradually dried throughout the afternoon. That had taken early starters like Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Reto Hollenstein (IAM) and Matthias Brändle (IAM) out of contention. Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) had started a bit later and was the leader for a long time but as the conditions continued to improve, the times started to get better at a rapid rate.

 

Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) and Martin Elmiger (IAM) both had stints in the hot seat before Jurgen Roelandts created a bit of a surprise by going five seconds faster than Elmiger with a time of 7.44. When he had survived the scare that saw Luke Durbridge miss out by less than second, the Belgian suddenly got hope that he could win the stage when rain started to fall just as the final riders were starting their race.

 

Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) still had fine rides but as the rain became heavier, it looked like Cancellara was out of the battle for the win. Pre-race favourite Michael Matthews (Oirca-GreenEDGE) was far off the pace so it seemed to be impossible for the Swiss.

 

Cancellara reached the time check with the fifth best time and nothing suggested that he would be able to turn things around in the technical second half. However, he did what most had thought to be impossible and as he sprinted across the line, the clock showed that he had won the stage by less than a second.

 

While Cancellara took the win, the GC riders battled for precious seconds. The big winner was prologue specialist Ion Izagirre (Movistar) who finished fifth while Kelderman was 10th. Geraint Thomas (Sky) also had a great ride to take 14th as did Pierre Latour (Ag2r) who was a surprise 21st and Robert Gesink (LottoNL) and Miguel Angel Lopez who wre 34th and 36th respectively.

 

Things were less good for Tejay van Garderen (BMC) who lose 22 seconds to Izagirre in 53rd, defending champion Simon Spilak (Katusha) who lost another three seconds and three-time winner Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) who lost a massive 32 seconds to the Basque. Local hero Mathias Frank (IAM) lost 30 seconds in 86th.

 

With the win Cancellara is the first leader of the race. He will try to defend his position in tomorrow’s second stage which is a hilly circuit race around the city of Baar. The riders will do four laps of a circuit that includes a category 2 climb with an average gradient of 4.2% over 5.4km. However, the top comes with 41km to go and as the rest of the stage is mainly descending, a reduced bunch sprint is the expected outcome.

 

A technical opener

The 80th edition of the Tour de Suisse kicked off with a 6.4km prologue in Baar. The course was mostly flat and had lots of power sections in the first half but things got more complicated in the second half where numerous turns made it a pretty technical affair.

 

Rain had been forecasted and Karel Hnik (Verva) had wet roads when he rolled down the ramp as the first rider. He stopped the clock in 8.19 to post a time that would make him the leader for a few minutes.

 

Hollenstein takes the lead

Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) was the fifth rider on the course and he went five seconds faster than Hnik but it was Reto Hollenstein (IAM) who was expected to post the first serious mark. His time of 7.52 was 22 seconds faster than Lobato’s and set the early standard.

 

Cedric Pineau (FDJ) slotted into fourth before Maximilano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) became the first threat for Hollenstein with a time of 8.03. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) was nine second slower in third while Patrick Bevin (Cannondale) had a poor rider with 8.20.

 

Brändle gets close

Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) made it into the top 5 with 8.15 but it was Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff9 that everybody waited for. However, he had a bad day and could only manage 8.10 for third. Philipe Gilbert (BMC) was one second further adrift and had to settle for fourth.

 

Matthias Brändle (IAM) was the next pre-race favourite to hit the course and he would get close to his teammate Hollenstein. However, he came up two seconds short and had to settle for second place before Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) moved into the top 10 with 8.16.

 

No glory for Sagan

Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) was expected to pose a threat but 8.00 was only enough for third for the big Swede. Three-time winner Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) had opted for an early start and was left disappointed with 8.16.

 

Koen Bouwman (LottonL-Jumbo) surprised with a time of 8.06 which was enough to move into fifth and Christian Knees (Sky) was also in the top 10 with 8.13. Much was expected of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) but he could only manage 7.57 and third place.

 

Lampaert takes the lead

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) opted for safety on the wet roads but still finished in the top 10 with 8.06. Felix Grossschartner (CCC) narrowly missed out on the top 10 with 8.12 and so was beaten by Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) who slotted into sith with 8.04.

 

There was no glory for Damien Gaudin (Ag2r) who could only manage 8.12, the same time as overall contender Mathias Frank (IAM). Instead, it was Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) who finally managed to beat Hollenstein as he stopped the clock in 7.48.

 

Best time for Kelderman

Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) limited his losses with 8.15 but it was another overall contender who got all the attention. Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) beat Lampaert’s time by less than a second to take the lead.

 

Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) showed good form with a time of 7.52 which allowed him to take fourth before Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) got a fine comeback by taking 8th. Jesse Sergent (Ag2r) could only manage 8.05 and instead it was another specialist who made it into the top 10 as Lars Boom (Astana) posted the sixth best time of 7.55.

 

Gaviria fades

Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) did surprisingly well to take 8th with 7.59 before Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) approached the finish. The Colombian had been third at the time check but had to settle for 9th with 8.02.

 

It was another disappointing prologue for Lieuwe Westra (Astana) as he had to settle for 8.17 and instead it was Kevin Reza (FDJ) who narrowly missed out on the top 10 with 8.04. Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) was three seconds faster and that was enough to slot into 10th.

 

Izagirre sets the best time

Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) delivered a surprise as he posted a time of 7.52 to move into fourth. That was seven seconds faster than Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) whose time of 7.59 was good enough for 9th but he was quickly pushed down one spot by Christopher Juul-Jensen (Orica-GreenEDGE) who was three seconds faster in 8th.

 

Kelderman’t time was finally beaten when Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) sprinted to the line in 7.48 to go less than a second faster. Pierre Latour (Ag2r) had a surprisingly good ride with 7.54 which was good enough for seventh and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) defended himself excellently to slot into 15th with 8.01.

 

Dowestt goes down

Paul Martens (LottoNL-Jumbo) continued the excellent showing from the Dutch team when he posted the fourth best time of 7.50 which was six seconds better than world champion Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) who had to settle for 12th. Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) also showed good form with 11th in 7.56.

 

Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was on track for a great ride as he had posted the second best time check but he went too fast in a corner and hit the deck. He rolled across the finish in 8.48, far from the result he had hoped for.

 

Roelandts surprises

The in-form Michele Scarponi (Astana) defended himself well with 8.05 but it was Martin Elmiger (IAM) that the local fans were waiting for. He didn’t disappoint as he posted a time of 7.44 to beat Izagirre by no less than four seconds..

 

Elmiger had barely caught his breath before Roelandts came powering towards the line and the Belgian did surprisingly well to lower the mark by no less than five seconds. That was 12 seconds better than Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) who did well to slot into seventh.

 

Near-miss for Durbridge

Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) posted the 11th best time before Silvan Dillier (BMC) again made the fans excited. The Swiss champion had a great ride with 7.47 which was good enough for third.

 

However, many were already waiting for Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) who had been fastest at the time check. However, he couldn’t maintain his speed and missed out on the lead by less than a second, slotting into second.

 

Good ride by Izagirre

Jasper Stuyven (Trek) showed great form as he posted a time on 7.50 to move into 8th but it was Romandie prologue winner Ion Izagirre (Movistar) that was expected to be the next threat. However, a time of 7.44 was only good enough for fourth.

 

Dries Devenyns (IAM) was left disappointed with 7.56 and instead Johan Le Bon (FDJ) proved that he is a great prologue rider, slotting into fifth with 7.47. Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) narrowly missed out on the top 10 as he posted the 11th best time.

 

Cancellara takes the win

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) showed that he has recovered from the Giro as he did really well to take fifth with 7.45 just as rain started to fall. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) battled through the wet conditions to post the 73th best time of 8.04.

 

Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) got the race off to a solid start with 8.00 while Geraint Thomas (Sky) had probably hoped for a bit more than 7.50 which was only good enough for 13th. Pre-race favourite Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) failed on the wet roads as he could only manage 25th.

 

Everybody was now waiting for Cancellara who had only been sixth at the time check. However, he finished exceptionally well to beat Roelandts by less than a second and as defending champion Simon Spilak was only 64th with 8.09, he could step onto the podium.

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