Fabian Cancellara has delivered the first individual win of the year for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek with victory in the Strade Bianche.
The Olympic time trial champion soloed to victory from just over 12km from the finish, distancing an elite chasing pack and, further back, a star-studded peloton.
“Today I won because I’m mentally 100 percent strong,” he told the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek website.
“You have mental strength and physical strength. Physically I’m not yet 100 percent. The training I have been doing in the last days was not specific for this race. The schedule for me and the team around me is to be in shape at the end of March and the first part of April. That’s still the plan, but of course it’s very nice to get such a nice victory.”
A 12-man break that included BMC Racing’s Marco Pinotti led for much of the day, escaping after just 10km before being chased down after 135km. Just over 15km later, Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) and Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) went up the road, with Bennati soon breaking clear of his compatriot.
Winner of last year’s Paris-Roubaix, Johan Van Summeren (Garmin Barracuda), assisted by a star-studded BMC Racing line-up, took up the pursuit of Bennati. Greg Van Avermaet was the first of the men in red and black to attack and when he failed to escape teammate Alessandro Ballan launched a similarly doomed attempt to distance his companions.
Van Avarmaet attacked again but with just 12km to go Cancellara caught him and sailed past, leaving him to chase with teammate Ballan, the Astana duo of Maxim Iglinsky and Roman Kreuziger, and Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).
“I was working for Alessandro when I attacked but Cancellara was too strong when he countered and I didn’t have the legs to follow,” Van Avermaet said.
Cancellara’s attack proved decisive. He crossed the line 42 seconds ahead of Iglinsky, who outsrprinted Gatto to claim second place. Ballan finished fourth, 46 seconds behind Cancellara, and two seconds ahead of teammate Van Avermaet.
Strade Bianche result
1) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – RadioShack-Nissan – 4:44:59
2) Maxim Iglinsky (KAZ) – Astana Pro Team + 42”
3) Oscar Gatto (ITA) – Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
4) Alessandro Ballan (ITA) – BMC Racing Team + 46”
5) Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing Team + 48”
6) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Astana Pro Team + 1:03
7) Francesco Reda (ITA) – Acqua & Sapone + 1:45
8) Francesco Ginanni (ITA) – Acqua & Sapone + 1:47
9) Elia Favilli (ITA) – Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
10) Johan Vansummeren (BEL) – Garmin – Barracuda + 1:57