Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) confirmed his incredible early-season form by riding to a superb solo win in the third and hardest race of the Mallorca Challenge series, the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, Saturday.
The team later confirmed that it hadn’t been the plan for Cancellara to join the 23-man breakaway. However, when the opportunity arose, Cancellara took advantage and then went on to seal the win by out-riding his escapees in the long descent off the final big climb, the Puig Major.
“I had no expectation to be in the breakaway,” explained Cancellara. “It was unclear if the break would make it. At the end, I was just trying to save as much energy as I could and followed the attacks from the group. In the last climb somehow I managed to survive, and then I felt some good feelings return.
“Alain (Gallopin, director) told me to go full gas in the downhill, to just try, and by the bottom, I had 45 seconds. Then I was just fighting and fighting to the end.”
Cancellara crested the highest climb in Mallorca leading the rest of the breakaway group and only seconds behind four leaders. He quickly caught back the four, then made little work in dropping all – at the bottom he had a 50-second lead.
When you give one of the best against the clock that much headstart – even with one final four-kilometer hill to navigate in the final kilometers – there is little hope in catching him back.
Cancellara had enough time at the finish to celebrate his win and enjoy his first victory in his final season. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) finished second in consecutive days, 17 seconds later, and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) rounded out the podium.
“I wasn’t sure about the time gap in the last kilometers, ” continued Cancellara. “I knew that Sky was moving behind, and so I knew that I had to just give everything. I was fully exhausted at the finish. But so was everyone – it has been a harder race this year with the nice weather. It was full gas all day, not one minute of relaxing.”
“I tried hard yesterday, and it didn’t work, and today I did not go to the [team’s] plan, and it did. These things, the way they happen, are like for a storybook. I am happy, very satisfied, and now I can relax and then go to Dubai.”