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Tour de Suisse stage 1: No surprise as Cancellara wins opening time trial

Stage 1: Lugano, 7.3km individual time trial

If there is one thing more reliable than the proverbial Swiss watch, it is the knowledge that Swiss time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara can be relied on to win in his specialist event. Sure enough, the Leopard-Trek ace duly won the short opening time trial at his ‘home’ race, the Tour de Suisse, by a commanding nine-second margin over HTC-Highroad‘s promising young American Tejay Van Garderen.

The 7.3km course around Lugano featured a technical 2km climb after a flat opening kilometre, with a sharpish descent leading into a flat run to the finish. The 22-year old Van Garderen, who was third at last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné, set the early benchmark with a time of 9:50. Saxo Bank Sungard‘s Gustav Larsson put in an impressive run to come in just eight seconds slower, while RadioShack’s Andreas Klöden, a big contender for overall victory here, was a second further back having set what would stand as the fastest time at the 3km overall split.

Cancellara eased into the overall lead after stage 1

However, nothing would stop the rainbow jersey of Cancellara from claiming a fifth prologue win in Switzerland. He reached the intermediate checkpoint just two seconds adrift of Klöden’s time, and had plenty in reserve for the second half of the course to stop the clock in 9:41, to move him into the lead by nine seconds.

His Leopard-Trek team leaders, Andy and Fränk Schleck, did not fare quite so well. Andy had to change bikes after a mechanical problem and finished 1:18 down while Fränk, the defending champion and therefore the last man to go, saw his run affected by rain, forcing him into a more conservative approach.

Liquigas‘s Peter Sagan, a four-time stage winner already in 2011, was third behind Van Garderen, 17 seconds down on Cancellara.

Cancellara was pleased to win, and relieved that he had suffered no major problems on his run:

I’m very happy because I was feeling a little bit nervous before the start. I had two big fears today: suffering a mechanical problem and having to do the downhill section like a man possessed. It’s a bit like doing a hard downhill in skiing — you have to stay in control while taking risks and not losing any speed.

After a relatively gentle introduction to the race, stage two throws the riders straight in at the deep end as they tackle the hors catégorie Nufenenpass, with its summit at 2,478m, right from the gun. Over 100km of descent and flat in pursuit of the inevitable breakaway should then follow ahead of the first-category climb to the ski resort of Crans-Montana. Although the last 10km is undulating, this is definitely a day for the climbers and overall contenders, with the sprinters bringing up the rear a long time after the leaders have finished.

Stage 2 profile

Stage 1 result:

1. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) 9:41

2. Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) +0:09

3. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) +0:17

4. Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank Sungard) +0:17

5. Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) +0:18

6. Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:20

7. Peter Velits (HTC-Highroad) +0:21

8. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) +0:22

9. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) +0:22

10. Linus Gerdemann (Leopard-Trek) +0:22

Links: Tour de Suisse official website (French/German), Steephill.tv

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

8 Responses to Tour de Suisse stage 1: No surprise as Cancellara wins opening time trial

  1. Kitty Fondue says:

    I love that Cancellara was concerned about ‘having to do the downhill section like a man possessed’ when in fact throughout the last couple of years we’ve seen him descend at unbelievable speeds as a man possessed with the highest levels of confidence and panache. Last year’s Tour saw him flying down a technical descent and pulling out what looked like a piece of cake for a bit of a snack on his way to the bottom. I can’t imagine anything that would cause the mighty Fab to lose his equilibrium but it’s nice to know he hasn’t set himself on the same skyscraping pedestal as I have.

    • Tim says:

      It was a great ride by Cancellara, particularly given that he clearly had a problem selecting gears straight out of the start-house, which means he would probably have matched Kloden – a genuinely strong climber – at the intermediate. Once we saw he was in touch at the split, it was game over, really.

      Obviously the road is a bit vertical for the next several days, but what price Fabian book-ending the Tour with a time trial win on the final day? Short odds, I’d guess!

  2. Kitty Fondue says:

    I’m fairly sure he’ll want to top and tail the Tour with a TT win – he was in the back yesterday during the climbs probably to save himself for helping out Frank Schleck later this week and then making sure he has some legs for Sunday. I’ll be at that start house with my Swiss flag!!!!!!!

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