Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara jumped to second place in the UCI WorldTour individual ranking and showed he will be the rider to beat in all the cobbled Classics this spring, with a dominant victory at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen Harelbeke race in Belgium.
The powerful RadioShack-Leopard rider surged away from his rivals over the top of the Oude Kwaremont cobbled climb, 35km from the finish, and then time trialed to the finish. Peter Sagan and all the big-name Classics riders were on Cancellara’s wheel when he attacked but were unable to go with him. Sagan and a small group of riders formed a chase group but never got close to Cancellara, who won alone in Harelbeke.
Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) won the sprint for second place edging out Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
Sagan leads the UCI WorldTour rankings
Thanks to his second place, Sagan took the lead in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings. He now has a total of 152 points, thanks to scoring 60 points for his second at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen Harelbeke and 80 points for second place in Milano-Sanremo. He scored other points with two stage victories and placings at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Cancellara’s victory at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen Harelbeke lifted him to second place, just one point behind Sagan, with 151 points. Previous leader Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step finished sixth at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen Harelbeke and slipped to third place in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings with 142 points.
Team Sky continued to lead the team rankings with 364 points after placing two riders in the top ten. Cancellara’s victory lifted RadioShack-Leopard to second place, with 266 points. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step is third with 238 points. Spain leads the nations ranking, with 309 points, ahead of Italia and Great Britain.
Cancellara is back at his best
Fabian Cancellara had a difficult 2012 season, crashing out of the Tour of Flanders, which forced him to miss the rest of the spring Classics. He won the prologue time trial and wore the race leader’s jersey at the Tour de France but then crashed during the Olympic road race in London and could only finish seventh in the time trial event.
“This is a great win for me,” Cancellara said reflecting on his victory and his long comeback, but refusing to worry that he will be the big favourite at next week’s Tour of Flanders.
“Winning or not winning, it’s always good to be up there. That’s why I took the chance. I’ve learnt that you never know what can happen tomorrow. Last year I crashed in Flanders so this is my first race on this special ground.”
“I tried to see what I could do on the Oude Kwaremont. When I got away, many, many things went through my mind. I had a lot of help from wife, my family, the team.”
Cancellara will be in action and chasing first place in the UCI WorldTour rankings on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem – the next race in the 2013 UCI WorldTour calendar.
UCI WorldTour Rankings – March 23, 2013:
- Peter Sagan (Slovakia / Cannondale) 152
- Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland / RadioShack) 151
- Sylvain Chavanel (France / Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) 142
- Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky) 117
- Richie Porte (Australia / Team Sky) 113
- Tom-Jelte Slagter (Netherlands / Blanco) 111
- Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Astana) 106
- Andrew Talansky (U.S. / Garmin) 92
- Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) 86
- Javier Moreno (Spain / Movistar) 86
- Alberto Contador (Spain / Saxo – Tinkoff) 72
- Jean-Christophe Peraud (France / AG2R) 71
- Tejay Van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing) 62
- Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland / Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) 61
- Jon Izagirre (Spain / Euskaltel) 61
- Luca Paolini (Italy / Katusha) 60
- Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain / Katusha) 58
- Ben Hermans (Belgium / RadioShack) 52
- Daniel Oss (Italy / BMC Racing) 50
- Chris Horner (U.S. / RadioShack) 42