With his win in the Liege prologue, Fabian Cancellara finds himself in a familiar place. For the 5th time in his career, he’s in yellow for stage one. Angelo over at the Italian Cycling Journal has put together a neat analysis that makes for an interesting read.
His most recent, and particularly memorable, outing in yellow was at the 96th edition of the Tour in 2009, also notable not least for Lance Armstrong’s return to the limelight.
Cancellara held on for the next 5 stages whereupon Rinaldo Nocentini entertained with his epic climb, blowing everyone else away—certainly giving Contador a moment of doubt—and taking the yellow from Cancellara. As things turned out it took Contador until stage 15 to to wrest the jersey from him, retaining it all the way to Paris of course.
The two stages following the individual time trial in Monaco were followed by a team time trial which marks a break with this year’s route: Tuesday’s stage 3, Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer, comprising moderate but tough uphill sections over the last 60km of the 197km route.
The peloton will be passing some cobblestone sections on the way, byways that are traversed in Paris-Robaix. Fabian may look wistfully across at these since they will be cycling alongside of these, not actually on them. The tricky sections of the final 60km will likely see the maillot jaune change hands.
Stage 7, 2009, the day he lost the maillot jaune, was most dramatic—he could have lost out by much more than he did. A puncture in the Pyrenees saw him separated from the peloton. Following a quick wheel change a mad chase ensued in which speeds of 100km/h were reached on one descent. Even the camera unit could not keep up with him. He made it back to the peloton but it was the Pyrenees, and they did their job.