It was with uncertainty that we watched Fabian Cancellara of Trek-Segafredo prepare for his ride in the opening time trial of the Giro d’Italia. Sickness had bugged him in the days beforehand and his condition was a big unknown. Sadly, condition got the better of him as the great Swiss champion took 8th in the opener.
Even on a bad day you can never rule out Fabian Cancellara. You don’t gain a nickname like ‘Spartacus’ for nothing. Cancellara is a fighter, and over 9.8km he lined up knowing that he was still in with a chance. Sadly the gastroenteritis he’d picked up just prior to the race had done its worst, and the worst was bad enough to throw him off of his game.
At the end of 9.8km of racing, Cancellara lost the opening stage to Tom Dumoulin by 14 seconds; stopping the clock in 11.17mins. Many riders who woke up on the day of a race sick, lined up at the start line sick, raced sick and finished 8th would be more than happy with their performance, but for a rider like Cancellara eighth really isn’t much.
“Of course being a specialist I can manage somehow a good result, but I mean I am used to different efforts and a different way to perform. I am kind of disappointed, but the situation is I am still sick. This morning I was still fighting the stomach flu symptoms right before the race. This doesn’t help and also the fear I had took a lot of the energy away. It is how it is,” Cancellara commented on the team’s website.
Cancellara put everything into his ride, with the great man storming around the course giving it everything. He was not to suffer the misfortune of riders like Stefan Keung, who began the stage as one of the favourites for the win, but was unseated when a right-hand bend was taken a little too wide and he took down a barrier and spectator or two. But the sight of the exhausted and ill champion sat down and slumped, completely exhausted at the end of the stage said it all.
Fabian Cancellara’s Giro d’Italia is far from over. He is just 14 seconds off of the overall lead, and he could take the lead later on in the first week of racing but all that will depend on whether he can improve after sickness spoiled his party on day one of the Giro.