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Cancellara’s Paris-Roubaix threatened by Scheldeprijs crash

Cancellara made a rare start in Antwerp on Wednesday and an early crash may have lingering effects on the cobbles on Sunday

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SCHOTEN, Belgium (VN) — Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) nearly had his Holy Week upset by a mid-week crash today in the Scheldeprijs semi-classic. Fresh off his Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) win Sunday, “Spartacus” hit the deck 50 kilometers into the Belgian race.

“It was one of those normal crashes that happen with the wind,” RadioShack manager Luca Guercilena said. “Fabian was riding in front, so even though a crash is never good, it happened at a favorable moment for us. Fabian decided to continue, with his muscles warmed up, there was no problem with finishing the race.”

The television cameras did not capture the crash, but they did spot Cancellara afterwards, holding onto the car, ripped shorts revealing a bloody left backside.

Cancellara preferred to stay in the bus after the race so Guercilena’s words took greater importance. Fans standing nearby became quiet and journalists noted every detail.

Any pains suffered here in Schoten could ruin Cancellara’s chances of winning another Paris-Roubaix title Sunday.

“He is already checking with the doctor now. We’ll see tonight and especially tomorrow morning. He was riding 60 kph, so it can be rather dangerous,” Guercilena continued. “He took a big hit on the backside, which was clear from the TV images. But we’ll have to evaluate the impact on his body.”

Four days to Roubaix

Cancellara travels back to Bruges, Belgium, this evening to stay with only four days remaining to Paris-Roubaix. He often skips the mid-week Scheldeprijs, which leaves many critics wondering if it was worth coming at all with Roubaix around the corner.

“He needed it. His condition is quite high, but still you must maintain it. It’s a good race to ride in a bunch. A good race to do some Ks with good rhythm,” Guercilena said. “Like I said, it’s not really a bad injury, but it’s not ideal to arrive in Roubaix like this. … The situation is not what it’s supposed to be, but this can happen. We’ll see day-by-day now. Tomorrow we’ll see. Normally he will do the typical recon of a small part of the course [tomorrow], and then an easy ride on Friday and Saturday.”

Rough ride

Cancellara’s classics season was derailed by a crash in the Ronde van Vlaanderen last year. He fractured his collarbone for the first time in his career after an errant water bottle sent him flying.

The Swiss missed Paris-Roubaix and sat out until mid-season. He won the prologue at the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey. However, he suffered another setback in the London Olympics when he crashed out of the winning move in the road race. He sat out for six months before returning at the Tour of Qatar in February.

His E3 Harelbeke and Ronde wins restored his and the team’s confidence, but the Scheldeprijs crash must have given everyone inside casa RadioShack reason to worry.

Only three days ago in De Ronde, a crash ruled out favorite Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). Suffering a banged-up knee, he is now likely out until the Amgen Tour of California in May. Roubaix, therefore, is Cancellara’s to lose.

“I said it before, you always have to take your wins when you can,” Cancellara said after E3 Harelbeke. “You have to race for today.”