Cancellara sprints to Tour de Suisse victory
Fabian Cancellara, Olympic champion in the time trail cycling race, has become the first Swiss since 2002 to win the Tour de Suisse.
Cancellara won the 39km time trial on the last day of the nine-day race in 46:01, 1:27 ahead of Germany’s Tony Martin who came second overall, and 1:42 in front of Thomas Dekker of the Netherlands.
Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic, who won the Swiss race last year, finished third overall.
Sunday’s win over the 39-km course in and around the capital Bern was Cancellara’s second stage win on the tour after finishing first on the initial day – also a time trial – in Liechtenstein.
The Tour de Suisse was considered by some critics to have been tailor made this year for the Swiss time-trial specialist.
Despite Switzerland’s topography, the field of cyclists only had to climb over three mountain passes in the event.
The nine-day race, covering 1,355 kilometers is considered a warm-up for the Tour de France, which starts July 4.
Cancellara displayed his exceptional speed over the relatively short distance on Sunday by passing Kreuziger, also considered strong in the time trial discipline, even though the Czech started two minutes before the Swiss.
Tadej Valjavec of Slovenia, who wore the leader’s yellow jersey coming into the final stage, finished seventh overall, 3:45 behind Cancellara.
Biggest tour success
Cancellara is the first Swiss to win the Tour de Suisse since 2002 when Alex Zülle accomplished the feat.
It is also Cancellara’s biggest success to date in a tour. Before this week, he had only managed a stage win in the Tirreno-Adriatico race.
But the Swiss competitor became a cyclist to be reckoned with after winning gold and bronze in the individual time trial and men’s road race respectively in the Beijing Olympics.
The feats led to his being named Swiss athlete of 2008, ahead of stars such as Roger Federer.
Although cycling experts give him little chance of winning the Tour de France, Cancellara will have high hopes of wearing the yellow jersey at the end of the first stage.
The prestigious race begins in Monte Carlo with a time trial.
swissinfo.ch and agencies
Fabian Cancellara was born in 1981 on the outskirts of the Swiss capital, Bern.
He is a Swiss professional cyclist with the Saxo Bank team. A time trial specialist, he is two-time World Time Trial Champion and current Olympic gold medalist in the discipline.
He is also a winner of Paris-Roubaix, Milan-Sanremo, Monte Paschi Eroica and two prologues of the Tour de France.
He won the junior World Time Trial Championship in both 1998 and 1999 and at the age of 19 came second at the 2000 U-23 World Time Trial Championship, after which he turned professional.
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