Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara wins the second stage of the Tour of Oman and keeps his classics goals front and center

AL BUSTAN, Oman (VN) — Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) is taking what he considers the right steps toward a successful 2015 season by enjoying every opportunity. On Wednesday, he won the Tour of Oman stage 2 in an uphill sprint as part of his classics path.

“I know it’s going to be over for me in a few years so I’ll try to enjoy it somehow,” Cancellara said.

“This is the small step towards the big ones because only thinking about the big ones is not what I want. That’s what I did many other years. I still won the big ones, but I didn’t get the small ones. Now I’m trying to win the small ones on my way to the big ones.”

Cancellara won ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and took the race leader’s red jersey with four days left to race.

The stage victory along Muscat’s coast, which featured sun and temperatures around 100 degrees, marked Cancellara’s first win since the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) last April. During an interview last week at the Tour of Qatar, Cancellara explained he “wasn’t happy” with 2014 because he failed to win enough.

Wednesday’s victory helps rectify the 2014 season and sets him up for what could be a successful 2015. The 33-year-old counts victories in the spring monuments Milano-Sanremo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and Paris-Roubaix, races where he wants to raise his arms in celebration again.

If he wins the Ronde again, he would become the first cyclist to do so four times. He is currently tied at three wins with five others, including current cyclist Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step).

Doing so would not be enough. Cancellara wants a “perfect” season, which would include wins like Wednesday’s in Oman and ones in upcoming races Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico.

“Perfect is to stay 100 percent healthy and to grow my condition. I know my condition is not bad, I saw that in the Tour of Qatar. I’m trying to keep improving to what I want to achieve. There’s still a few weeks left to do that,” Cancellara said.

“I said I wanted to start with the small things, not that this is a small race because we have big, strong riders here. I want to be fluid, be there and be switched on.”

Cancellara won the Tour of Oman overall in its first year, 2010. With the Green Mountain summit finish Friday, the race for the overall is out of reach for a rider of his muscular build this year.

On Wednesday, the overall favorites made their moves to distance rivals. American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) attacked with Valverde, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo). The winning move of 19 finished 46 seconds over a group with Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

“I followed one of Valverde’s moves,” van Garderen told VeloNews. “I tried attacking over the top of the climb, then Majka attacked me, then Valverde attacked again.

“We have a pretty good idea of who the strong guys are in this race. I was right there with those guys. This is a small test to feel each other out. The real test will be Green Mountain.”