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Without Fabian Cancellara, RadioShack-Nissan must chart a new course

Without team leader Fabian Cancellara, RadioShack-Nissan is looking for Plan B

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Fabian Cancellara’s crash in Sunday’s Tour of Flanders has left the RadioShack-Nissan team looking for Plan B. With the team’s charismatic leader headed to a Swiss hospital for surgery to repair multiple collarbone fractures suffered in a feed zone crash, the operative word is ‘regroup.’

“Once your leader goes down it becomes difficult,” said team manager Johan Bruyneel in a press release. “If Fabian didn’t have his crash I feel confident he would have been in the final with the rest of the favorites. I think he had a good chance to win it. But that is all ‘if’. It’s a big disappointment for him and for the entire Classics team. They have worked very hard all winter to be ready for this race and next week’s Paris-Roubaix and now they are gone.”

The team’s best-placed rider was Gregory Rast in eleventh.

“This was a big disappointment for us,” said Rast in the team’s statement. “But the directors continued to give us good motivation after Fabian was out.”

“You could see Hayden (Roulston)was very strong. I felt good too, even on the last lap, but of course this not what we were here for. We were here to win the race, not attempt a top ten finish. It would have been easy for Fabian to go with those guys in the final move but it’s more difficult for me and for Hayden. But for sure we won’t give up.”

Roulston began the race in support for Cancellara, but ended the race with the front group.

“Not having our leader there at the end changed the race for us, of course,” said the New Zealander. “But that’s the way cycling goes. If you have one leader and things go wrong then you just have to try something else. Despite what critics have said in the press, we had a very strong team around Fabian. Even at the end today we still had three guys come in with the first chasing group. We’re strong individually and strong as a team. People can say what they want. It’s really the legs that do the talking.”

Bruyneel is already looking at other riders to fill the gap.

”It’s only a broken collarbone, which is a lucky thing, so he’ll be able to heal fast and make some other objectives for his season,” said Bruyneel. “We’ll reassess for the other riders too. We have several that are in very, very good shape so we’ll see.”

Roulston is already thinking about his chances in next Sunday’s “Hell of the North.”

“Looking forward to Paris-Roubaix next week, of course this changes things,” he said.  “But it’s a course perfectly suited to me and I’ve worked hard this winter. It’s a huge disappointment to not have Fabian, I feel very sorry for him, but we’re all professionals and we’ll do the best we can.”