Riis: Cancellara could win Liège

Fabian Cancellara could win Liège-Bastogne-Liège, says Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis.

Could Fabian Cancellara win Liège? Bjarne Riis thinks so.

Fabian Cancellara wants to savor his historic Flanders-Roubaix double, but Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis says Spartacus should keep on truckin’ toward Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Cancellara roared into the history books Sunday, becoming just the 10th rider to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year. After a heavy spring racing schedule, Cancellara wanted nothing more than to have a party and take a break.

Riis, however, says Cancellara shouldn’t walk away from an historic opportunity.

“Fabian is on the form of his life and I think he should race at Amstel and Liège,” Riis said Sunday. “I think he could win Liège.”

Riis said he will not force Cancellara to race the Ardennes classics, but left the option on the table for his prolific Swiss rider.

“Fabian is a special rider and I’ve never worked with a rider like him before,” Riis said. “He has tremendous capacity and there’s still a lot he can do. Some day he will do the hour record, but nothing is set for now. Why not Liège? He can get up hills like that because he is so powerful.”

Cancellara has mentioned that he’d like to win all five of cycling’s so-called monuments. He’s already bagged three, with victories in Milan-San Remo, Flanders and Roubaix. Liège and Giro di Lombardia, two races that favor skinnier climbers, are all that remain to complete the rare quintet.

Cancellara is scheduled to take a short break before returning for the Tour of California.

Saxo Bank, meanwhile, has a strong arsenal waiting in the wings for the Ardennes classics, led by the Schleck brothers and a powerful team to back them up in the hilly classics.

Cancellara did not want to hear anything about the Ardennes, at least not on Sunday, in the post-Roubaix euphoria that came in the wake of his second cobblestone trophy.

“I just want to relax right now and enjoy this moment. I have to take some time to realize what I have achieved,” Cancellara said. “It’s been a long three weeks (since Milan-San Remo) and I want to do now is celebrate this victory with my teammates. It’s a special group of guys for the cobblestone races and we’ve been working together for a long time for this. At Amstel and Liège, it’s a different group of riders and a different feeling.”

Cancellara vows one day to make a run for the Ardennes with special preparation and training, but Riis says he shouldn’t shut the door on the best form of his career.

The cycling world will see how good Riis’s persuasive powers are later this week.