Fabian Cancellara was the odds-on favourite to take out the title in Ronde van Vlaanderen after a determined start to the season and two strong performances last weekend, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to close the gap to a lone Peter Sagan and had to settle for second place.
“Second is not first, but it’s still not bad,” Cancellara said after the race.
“I still don’t know if I made a mistake or something went wrong. I did everything I could and gave it all I had, but I’m not Superman and I cannot do everything I want. Finishing second in my last Flanders is not what I wanted to have. I wanted to ride for history.”
“It was a strange moment [when Sagan and Kwiatkowski attacked]. Sky had more numbers, I knew with so many riders you have to be careful. I can’t jump behind everyone and I had to focus on a few,” added Cancellara.
“I had to stay calm because I knew it was going to be hard. If I had a chance, it would be on the Paterberg or Kwaremont because the other teams had numbers. I had to gamble.”
The 35-year-old will never race another big one-day race on the famous Flemish farm roads and climbs.
“My last time on Flemish roads, last time Flanders. There are many things,” he said. “You think about what happened a week ago in Belgium with terrorism, but you see the people on the roads today… Cycling in Flanders is a unique thing. Flanders will always stay in my heart.
“I achieved many nice things here and I always have a lot of support here. I tried to enjoy the day, but in a bike race like this, you don’t have time to enjoy it.”
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