Three cobblestone trophies will now reside at the home of Fabian Cancellara after his stunning win in the velodrome of Paris-Roubaix. Coming onto the track with Sep Vanmarcke, Cancellara positioned himself behind the Team Blanco rider and sprinted for the line, taking the win by a bike length and making it three Roubaix victories for the Swiss rider.
Collapsing to the ground after his huge effort, Cancellara, 32, took a moment to recover and savor his victory: “I was in another world of riding! I still don’t know how I did it. I was dropped and pretty far back but then I started to move up. This is a race you can never give up on until the end. I had to play with him in the end because I tried to go away but he followed so then I knew it was man against man. I’m happy for the team and for me. Now I look forward to rest and a holiday. Mission accomplished,” said a satisfied Fabian Cancellara.
It was cold but clear skies on the 254km course for the 198 starters in the 111th Paris-Roubaix, making for the second-fastest race in Roubaix history with a time of 5:56:13. Cancellara’s original move came with 50km to go when he upped the pace from a chase group and began the process of selection. An impressive Zdenek Stybar stayed with Cancellara as they chased down Vanmarcke and Stijn Vandenbergh but crashes took the Omega Pharma QuickStep teammates down, leaving the battle to be fought between Cancellara and Vanmarcke.
With his Tour of Flanders win last week, Cancellara headed into the race as the clear favorite and in the position of having everyone ride against him. Cancellara: “It’s amazing having a third victory. When I see how in this race everyone was against our team, against me, I just had to do a selection. The team came into a little bit of difficulty because we lost a few guys because of bad luck. But that’s Roubaix. It’s always nice to win alone but today there was pure fighting until the very end. I could not believe it when I crossed the finish line. My legs and my head wanted to bring me here.”
In the car for Fabian was 1988 Paris-Roubaix winner and team director Dirk Demol, encouraging Cancellara and reminding him he was the best: “I was nervous the whole day. We knew what we were facing. We knew we had the best rider and best team. But I told the guys this race wasn’t only for Fabian, it was for the whole team. We weren’t riding for second place, only the victory. I know Vanmarcke very well. He’s from my neighborhood and I knew he would be a fighter. I told Fabian to ride to keep him working and not make any mistakes. He had to stay focused as we knew Vanmarcke could do a good sprint. It was too bad Stybar crashed. This was perfect for him. But this time others had the bad luck and we had the good. That’s the way it goes in Roubaix. Fabian feels this race. That really helps in a race. He’s good at that. Really good.”