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UCI WorldTour: Cancellara King Of Flanders




UCI WorldTour rankings

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) claimed a superb lone victory at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, his first ‘Monument’ since 2010 and the second ‘Ronde’ of his career. But runner-up Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) remains on top of the WorldTour individual classification.

After leading Belgian favourite Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) crashed out in the first hour,  Cancellara took on the mantle of top contender. But neither the extra pressure nor his memories of crashing out in the same race last year seemed to unsettled ‘Spartacus’.

Instead, the 32-year-old multiple World and Olympic champion took the race by the scruff of its neck when he blasted away on the Old Kwaremont, with 20 kilometres to go. Sagan was the only rider able to go with him, but on the Paterberg, the last climb of the day, a blistering final acceleration left Cancellara alone at the head of the field.

After that, as Cancellara inexorably opened up a bigger and bigger lead, leaving Sagan to settle for second ahead of Belgium’s Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), there was no question that a fifth Monument - two Paris-Roubaix, a Milan - San Remo and now a second Ronde Van Vlaanderen title - was soon to enrich Cancellara’s already impressive palmares.

“The goal was to win, and sometimes you can’t predict how that will happen,” Cancellara said. “A year ago I was [lying] on the ground, now I’m back and winning Flanders on the new course.”

“As big favourites, we had to take the race on very early, but in the end I came to the Kwaremont feeling ok. It was strange, I suffered more on the asphalted climbs than the cobbled ones today. But when I came up the Patersberg, I saw many Swiss flags, I went for it and I brought the Ronde home.”

Overall in the individual WorldTour rankings, Sagan still leads. But thanks to Cancellara’s victory - his second in a WorldTour race this season, following his win nine days earlier in the E3-Harelbeke, again ahead of Sagan - the Swiss rider has squeezed Sagan’s lead to 61 points.

At the same time, as a result of their consistently strong Classics performances, both Sagan and Cancellara have put space between themselves and their closest rivals. Indeed, none of the contenders currently in third, fourth and fifth places overall  - Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and Geraint Thomas (Sky ProCycling) - have seen their positions or points total changed after the latest round of the WorldTour.

Just as with Sagan, there is no change in the overall lead in the WorldTour nations or teams classifications. Spain remain top country with 395 points, whilst Italy’s total of 319 is also unchanged. However, thanks to Sagan, Slovakia have jumped two places to third spot, whilst France, with two top ten finishers in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, are now fourth.

It is a similar story in the WorldTour teams ranking. Sky ProCycling are still classified first, but whilst their total of 407points remains unchanged, their advantage on their closest pursuers has shrunk enormously. After Gent-Wevelgem and the Volta a Catalunya last weekend, Sky ProCycling had a 139 point margin on Katusha. Now the British team leads by just 41 points on RadioShack.

The Vuelta al País Vasco, starting Monday and running for six days, could see stage race specialists return to the fray: Richie Porte (Sky ProCycling), already WorldTour leader this spring and currently lying sixth overall, is one top favourite. But Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), who has won the race twice before, is unlikely to make it easy for the Australian in the exceptionally hilly Basque stage race, which has no less than 32 classified climbs and two summit finishes. Other top favourites include last year’s winner Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol).

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