Cancellara’s fevered dreams of pink

Fabian Cancellara's hopes for an early pink jersey were derailed by illness, but he has the form to maybe nab a stage as the race rolls on

Photo: TDW

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Fabian Cancellara’s maglia rosa dreams fell away as quickly as his temperature rose. He lay in bed, less than 24 hours before the Giro d’Italia’s first stage, the first and best opportunity to lead his final Giro.

After missing out on Flanders and Roubaix, the Giro’s pink jersey was his next goal. But Cancellara finished the prologue in eighth, 14 seconds back on Tom Dumoulin. Pink is now a dream diminished, but not gone.

“Never say never. He has 14 seconds in the overall, you know the Giro is a tough race, you never know what can happen,” Trek – Segafredo director Luca Guercilena told VeloNews before Saturday’s stage. “When you have the condition you can always try to make it.”

Cancellara does indeed have the condition, even if it’s masked by illness at the moment. He came to the Giro off a hard training block at home in Bern, Switzerland, where he was producing figures as good as anything he’s seen in the last four years.

“We were sure that the condition was a top one,” Guercilena said. “It’s really similar to Tour de France in 2012.”

In 2012, Cancellara won the opening prologue and then finished second to Peter Sagan the next day. He was 4th in stage 3 two days later.

“That’s life, that’s cycling,” Guercilena said. “We accept it. For sure, now a stage victory is something that would at least pay back the work that he’s done.”

Barring catastrophic crosswinds (which appear unlikely in the current forecast), Saturday and Sunday’s flat Dutch stages are not the right place to make a move. Plus, Trek wants to give Cancellara a few more days to recover. The early rest day on Monday, taken to provide time for the Giro to head back to Italy, works in Cancellara’s favor, according to Guercilena.

Tricky stages back on Italian soil could provide the sort of launch pad Cancellara could take advantage of. The first Italian stage features a sharp, 1.8km climb that peaks at 18% and tops out just 8 kilometers from the line. The second has more climbs throughout the day and finishes with a 3.4% uphill drag in the last kilometer. They’re excellent Fabian fodder.

“That’s the hope,” Guercilena said when asked if Cancellara would pull one of the late moves he was famous for a few years ago. “We need to see now how he passes these couple days. See the fever completely gone. Then everything is possible. If we want to take the jersey, we should try something like this.

“We are here for that. As usual we are not giving up for an injury or anything. If we can do it, we will try.”

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