"I am ready to conquer the cobbles with the yellow jersey on my shoulders."
Blick.ch notes an intriguing streak that the World Time Trial Champion, Fabian Cancellara, has going for him heading into Saturday's Prologue in Rotterdam. Since 2004, when the Prologue of the Tour de France has not been held in France, the winner has been Fabian Cancellara each time. On Saturday, there's no reason to think that the streak will not continue, especially considering that Fabian Cancellara is the fastest man on a time trial bike bar none.
Of course, the first thing that might come to mind after a comment like that would be the final time trial at the Tour de Suisse where HTC-Columbia's German time trial champion, Tony Martin, defeated Cancellara. Cancellara notes the loss, but excuses himself: "After so many days of racing in the rain, I wasn't 100% motivated anymore. My mind was already on the Tour."
Fabian Cancellara has spent 15 days in Yellow so far in his career, and the chances look good for him to spend a few more in the opening week of this year's Tour. Even more special for the man from Bern will be Stage 3's visit to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, a return to the pave that netted him one of the finest victories of his career back in April.
"It was a beautiful feeling to see the pave in summer. I am ready to conquer the cobbles with the yellow jersey on my shoulders."
After riding the 13 km of cobbled roads twice on Tuesday, Andy Schleck marveled at his teammate's abilities on the cobbles: "Unbelievable. Fabian doesn't rattle over the cobbles, he flies!"
It's not all happy thoughts of cobbled glory in the Saxo Bank camp though. The recent loss of director sportif, Kim Andersen, to the new proposed ProTour team out of Luxembourg is already proving a noticeable. Following his training over the cobbles on Tuesday, Cancellara remarked that he missed Andersen.
"He was there in April when I won Flanders and Roubaix, but now, Torsten Schmidt is in the car. It will work with him as well though."
The words just don't quite ring confident, and it draws into question Bjarne Riis's flat negation of Andersen's importance to the team when he left. Riis said at the time that it wouldn't matter if Andersen was there or not come July in France. For now, Riis isn't tolerating or wasting any time on the soap opera that has formed around his team: "We will not take a stance on rumors or speculation. If I have something to say, then I will say it. One thing is for sure: the team will be here in 2011."
If Riis isn't bluffing, that will mean that no matter what, he should have at least one rider to count on in 2011: Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara's contract extends into 2011. First up for Cancellara though is another possible adventure in Yellow…this time over his beloved cobbles.