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Initially the fastest rider in the provisional standings and then second by the end of the stage ten time trial, Fabian Cancellara was later bumped down a place to third as a result of a penalty handed down by the race judges.
The Swiss rider finished 11 seconds behind his big TT rival Tony Martin, with the current world champion once again getting the better of the former one. The duo are expected to go head to head in next month’s championships and had a good duel on a course that suited neither particularly well.
Cancellara’s deficit was later revised to 18 seconds, with the seven second time penalty dropping him three seconds below the rider who had been third, Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
Race commissaires claimed that he had drafted during the race.
“I did what I could, that was my goal today,” the Trek Factory Racing rider said. “My only doubt was my safety for myself, and I also could not find the rhythm. I spoke with my [director] and he said, ‘hey, if you did not find the rhythm how do you expect the other ones to find the rhythm?’”
The issue was the nature of the course, which was very tough early on with an undulating and at-times steep third category climb, then much quicker afterwards with a rapid descent, then a long, gradual slope down to the finish.
Cancellara said that his setup was not quite right. “I was not using the gears I usually do for time trials – it was either hard [gear] to pedal, or really low [gear] to pedal; [that] was something special of today,” he said. “In the end I did what I could. I did my maximum, and that is also important.
He was unhappy with one aspect of the course. “It was bad, bad roads! This asphalt – it is not an excuse – but it has nothing to do with a time trial in my opinion. Compared to last year [the roads were] much nicer, but this is how it is and we have to do it. But I hope they look for better roads than this.”
Cancellara had been complaining of the temperatures in the first part of the race but now sounds happier in that regard. “I am looking forward to the next days now. I was happy for the rest day and happy that the heat is less so we can return to a normal level of racing,” he explained.
“From now we are building up to the next stage. [Today] the GC contenders had another race: they are racing for seconds for GC. On the other hand there are riders like me and Tony Martin and some others that go for the stage win. There are always two different races and two mentally different strengths [needed to] put out on the road.”
His big aim is to use the race to build as well as possible towards the world championships. He’d like another time trial title, but also wants to challenge for the road race gold medal. That has long been a target for him and although the Ponferrada route is regarded as a tough one, he believes that the Vuelta can help him get into the necessary physical shape to challenge.