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Sagan beats Cancellara in Suisse prologue
Jun 10th, 11. Peter Sagan has won almost 30 times since he turned professional three seasons ago, but until today he had never won a time trial - today he beat one of the best, Fabian Cancellara.
The 7.3km prologue opener to the nine stage Tour de Suisse looked to be a great opportunity for the many time TT World Champion to show his home crowd he had fully recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained during the classics season.
While the local hero, who won the overall Tour de Suisse title in 2009, had a good ride, Sagan (Liquigas) had an even better one.
The Slokavian powered around the course in a time of 9m43s, 4sec ahead of Cancellara (RadioShack Nissan Trek), to take the first yellow jersey of the tour.
"I had fun and felt comfortable. I'm really happy for this moment when everything is going well. It's great morale boost, what I need to continue my path towards the Tour de France," said Sagan who studied the course carefully to see where he could maximise his power.
The 22 year old, who took a record-breaking five wins in the Tour of California last month, is racing the Tour de France for the first time this year. Like many in the field, he is using the Tour de Suisse to fine tune his form.
He has recently returned from mountain training in the Italian Alps where he focused on improving his power and intensity.
"My goal is to work towards the Tour de France: the climbs will help test stamina and improve race rhythm, and the other stages may be a chance for a morale-boosting win," he said of his Tour de Suisse goals.
After just 7.3km, he has acheived his first goal.
"Now I will concentrate on the next stages: those of the mountain to work hard and improve in strength, the other [goal] to help the team achieve new successes," he said after today's victory.
Sagan finished 3rd in the Tour de Suisse last year after winning two stages. Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma Quickstep) did not have a good start to his campaign today, he finished 57th, +41sec down.
Other GC favourites for this World Tour event title are Roman Kreuziger (Astana) +19sec and Jakob Fuglsang (RadioShack Nissan Trek) +22sec.
As for Cancellara, he was happy with his feelings today. He picked up his pace on the second half of the course to finish with the best time to date and took over the leader's hot seat while he waited for the final nine riders to cross the line. Only Sagan went faster.
"Good result. With class you not win, but you get close. Looks [like] I am on the good way in the preparation so far. #TdSuisse starts really tomorrow," he twittered. "Thanks to all that supported me today. Strange feeling when you don't know how good you are. Was really nervous today. Even me can still have that."
Tomorrow the Tour de Suisse peloton get to unleash their climbing legs - although there is 140km of flat racing and 20km of descent, the rest of the 218km stage is up two Hors Category climbs, the final one boasts the finish line at the top.
The following four stages look made for breakaways with long stages and some hills. A 34km TT will then get the GC race reinvigorated before two consecutive mountain top finishes will find the 2012 champion.
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