Cancellara believes new Flanders route should guarantee better racing
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cancellara believes new Flanders route should guarantee better racing

by VeloNation Press at 8:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Swiss rider speaks about his career on Belgian television

Fabian CancellaraThe 2010 race winner Fabian Cancellara has welcomed the changes to the route of the Tour of Flanders, saying that he believes the changes could make for a more exciting and selective race.

Next year’s event will see the race move to a new finish in Meerbeke and, more substantially, miss out on the legendary climbs of the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg. Instead, it will climax with three laps of a finishing circuit, with the riders climbing the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg on each lap.

A poll conducted just after the new route was unveiled saw only nine percent of Belgian fans approving the changes, but Cancellara feels sure that a better race lies in store.

“It will be harder, close to the end, and I think it is also better,” he said during an appearance on Belgium’s De Laatste TV show yesterday. “When I looked around the parcours, after Tenbosse, there was always this dead moment until the Muur. After Bosberg, this moment goes out. Now we riders will make the race hard or soft, we will see. In the end, the strongest will win, the smartest.”

The show was held in conjunction with Cancellara’s appearances to publicise his new book, and featured highlights of some of his most significant triumphs. Unsurprisingly, his dominant 2010 Flanders win featured, with the show’s producers showing images of him rocketing away from Belgian favourite Tom Boonen on the Muur. The move led to a dominant solo win, but also to later suggestions that he could have had a motor in his bike.

“I attacked on instinct,” he said. “I watched it 100 times. In the end, the race was so hard and he [Boonen] went down with cramps. I see that as an athlete, not as a commentator or just someone at home, a fan… He did his maximum, I just continued my speed. At the most important moment he had cramps and when you have cramps, you don’t go forward, you go almost backward.

“I know that from this year, in the Tour of Flanders…I had the same. When you see the finish line and the cramps are coming, it’s over…”

Speaking about the motor rumours, he said that it was a story that grew out of control, thanks in part to the internet. “It was not nice. Someone in Italy came out with that, there were some video chapters and in the end people believed it,” he said. “It was not funny…I had three million clicks, three million people went on Youtube. You got a lot to be more famous, but it was like taking a piss on what you achieved.

“On the other way [on the other hand – ed.], I see it as a compliment that I went so fast, so strong, and so early [that they thought this could be possible].”

The highlights of some of his best wins, including a utterly dominant display in the 2009 world time trial championships, underlined that 2011 was not quite as strong a season as previous ones. He clocked up six individual wins, namely time trial/prologue successes in the Tour de Suisse (two), the Tour of Luxembourg , Tirreno-Adriatico, the Swiss national championships and the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, but had near misses in several more.

These included runner-up slots in Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix, plus third-place finishes in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the world championship time trial. Second place was possible there but he pushed so hard to try to get back on terms with a dominant Tony Martin that he overcooked a right-hand bend, brushed off against the barriers and came to a complete stop. This enabled the Briton Bradley Wiggins to snag the silver medal.

The year was still a very successful one, but defeats by Martin in the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and world championships removed the image of near-invincibility he had in time trials. He’s now the world’s second-best rider against the clock and must try to regain his crown next year.

Cancellara didn’t seem too stressed about the situation, though, and will doubtlessly work hard over the winter to build condition for 2012. He was clear on what is the toughest thing about the sport, and avoiding it is a motivation. “Not being in shape….that is maybe the worst thing,” he said. “You have to train, you have to do 100 percent, everything maximum to get the best shape, to get into good condition. Then it is a pleasure to ride fast. I like that.”

He’s already had some tough moments during his time in the peloton, and knows what he must do to respond. “I don’t like it when I am not good, then I suffer more. That is also why I sacrifice a lot, to get the most out of it,” he said.

The show included several lighter moments, including a memory from when he joined the Mapei team in 2000 as a stagiaire, aged just 19 years of age. He admits that he was overweight, and this drew comments almost immediately from the team.

He recounted what was said then. ‘Are you the new mechanic? You have something that looks more like a mechanic than a rider,’ he remembered, the image drawing laughs from the audience.

‘Hey, I won the world championships…’ the younger Cancellara answered. ‘This is professional sport,’ was the response. ‘Here, what you won as a junior is finishes – it is a new step.’

Eleven years on, heading into his first season with the RadioShack-Nissan setup, he’s facing another step. After the near misses of 2011 in the northern Classics and time trials, Cancellara is aiming to get back on top and show that he’s still the world’s best in those areas.


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