Liege in 2004, London in 2007, Monaco in 2009 and now Rotterdam in 2010 – following his fourth victory in the Tour’s opening time trial stage, Fabian Cancellara freely admitted the weather had been an important factor in his success.

“It rained a lot early on this afternoon and I kept on praying the good weather would come back,” Cancellara said.

“I said to my team-mates it would be nice to win in exactly ten minutes and when the sun came out again, I knew my luck had held and that target would be realistic.”

Cancellara said his sixteenth day wearing the Tour’s yellow jersey came after following Saxo Bank team-mate Nicki Sorensen in the team-car to make one final check of the route.

“After that, it all came down to the weather and going 110 percent from start to finish. And it paid off.”

Questions from the press about battery-powered bikes were inevitable after the publication of a video on the Internet alleging Cancellara had possibly used one, but the Swiss rider brushed them off with a series of jokes. He also denied there had been any sense of revenge about taking the fifth Tour stage of his career.

“When I heard they [the UCI] would be checking my bike for battery motors, I said to the guys checking it, ‘if you want to find one, just look at me.’ I’m the motor.”

“It was a nine kilometre prologue, and my ‘battery’ lasted just perfectly.”

“I know 2.6 million people have seen the You-Tube video of the battery-powered bikes. I wonder how many people will have watched me win in the Tour today.”

The Saxo Bank rider confirmed he also wore his number 13 race number upside down, “the same as I did in London. It brought me luck then and I thought it would bring me luck again.”

Given the lack of time bonuses, Cancellara says he’s optimistic about his chances of keeping the yellow jersey for several days. But the Paris-Roubaix winner has one special aim.

“My dream would be to reach Arenberg Forest [the finish of stage three] and go over those cobbles of northern France in yellow. If I can do that, I’ll be more than satisfied.”

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Official start list, with race numbers



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Tout team guide



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Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special