World time-trial champion cyclist Fabian Cancellara won the prologue of the Tour de Suisse for the second year in a row on Saturday.
The Swiss Olympic gold medallist, who won the multistage race last year, mounted an impressive comeback by converting an eight-second deficit early in the race into a 1.12-second lead for the win. It was the fourth time in his career that Cancellara has won the opening-day race.
Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic took second. Tony Martin of Germany came in third, four seconds back.
“It doesn’t matter whether it was by one second or two or nine,” Cancellara told Swiss television after the race. “I won and that’s what matters to me.”
The 7.6km-long course in Lugano, canton Ticino, was short but steep with a 1.5km-long climb up 115m of elevation gain. At the top of the hill, Cancellara, who was the last rider to start, seemed too far off the best time for a podium finish.
Things changed on the way down, when the Bern-based cyclist delivered an electrifying – and risky – descent down the wet, slick streets. By the time the finish line came into view, Cancellara had obliterated the gap to take the lead.
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of the United States, who won the Tour de Suisse in 2001, was 30 seconds slower than Cancellara and finished 44th.
The nine-stage, 1,353km-long race cuts through northern Italy on Sunday as it rolls from Ascona, in canton Ticinio, to Sierre, in canton Valais. It finishes on June 20 in Liestal in canton Basel-Country.