Fabian Cancellara Interview: Paris-Roubaix winner speaks to the press after third career victory in race
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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Fabian Cancellara Interview: Paris-Roubaix winner speaks to the press after third career victory in race

by Ben Atkins at 2:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 
‘The last hour was just pure fight, and I’m really happy. I probably never damaged myself like this’

Fabian CancellaraHe soloed to victory last week in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, having time to really savour his second win in that event. Today’s victory in Paris-Roubaix was a very different sensation for Fabian Cancellara, with the RadioShack Leopard rider only realising in the final few metres that he would win the race.

The big Swiss competitor took his win the hard way, holding back after making it into the selection in order to stop his rivals from marking him out of contention, then bridging up to groups ahead of him and finally ending up with just Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco Pro Cycling) for company.

The latter was very strong, despite his time out front prior to Cancellara bridging across, and he was able to respond to all efforts by the Swiss rider to get clear. The duo entered the velodrome together, where a nervous-looking Cancellara successfully forced Vanmarcke to lead out the sprint, then came around him in the final few metres.

“I still don’t know how I did it, but I know that I probably never went over my limits like this today. I just searched for the victory, searched for the finish line - more than probably everything else - to pass as the first rider,” he said afterwards, speaking about the physical and mental strain he experienced in winning this third Paris-Roubaix.

“I was happy, but I was probably more happy that the race was finished. After it was finished, I first found some grass to just lie down and have my minute of breathing and come back onto Planet Earth. The last hour was just pure fight, and I’m really happy. I need my days - my hours - of recovery, because I probably never damaged myself like this [before].”

After his victory Fabian Cancellara spoke to the media at the winner’s press conference. The answers from that interview follow below, and reveal the effort it took to pick up his third Roubaix title and the second Flanders/Roubaix double of his career.

Q: How does it feel?

Fabian Cancellara:
There were many times, and many situations, when the whole thing went through my mind, when I saw different situations - when I was in really difficult situations. I don’t say that I was isolated too early, but we knew that it was going to be a war from the start to the end - everyone against us; everyone against me - and I still don’t know how I did it, that’s what makes this victory so special.

In then end of course its always nice to come into the velodrome and to have your own show, but it wasn’t the show that I was searching for, I was searching for the victory, but - as I said - I don’t know how I did it.

It was a fight - a big fight - coming up to the big group, then trying to go away from this group; then I had Štybar on my wheel - I don’t know how in the end that Štybar and Vandenbergh were not there any more. Then it was just me and Sep Vanmarcke.

He did a fantastic race. I tried to go away, but there was no instinct any more. Sometimes there are times when instinct says that I’m really good, but today there was nothing called instinct, there was just fighting and going on a level of riding a bike that sometimes you don’t know how you can do it.

I still don’t know how I did it, but I know that I probably never went over my limits like this today. I just searched for the victory, searched for the finish line - more than probably everything else - to pass as the first rider.

I was happy, but I was probably more happy that the race was finished. After it was finished, I first found some grass to just lie down and have my minute of breathing and come back onto Planet Earth. The last hour was just pure fight, and I’m really happy. I need my days - my hours - of recovery because I probably never damaged myself like this.

I’m happy for the third stone, happy for the team. It was a great mission; we had a mission this morning, and the mission is accomplished. What a day: super-fast, my second double; I need a few days to really realise what I have done.

Q: Your team was very strong, but you were alone with almost 50km to go - were you afraid it was going to be like 2011 again, with everybody against you?

FC: I was probably more confident today than I was in 2011, because I knew that the team is super-strong. They did a fantastic job as long as they could - they’re also just bike riders like me, and everyone else is. We knew from the start that this was going to be a big fight, that we have the whole bunch against us, we have everyone against me. But we knew that - and I knew - that they would give everything they could.

There was also our unluck (sic), and that is how Roubaix is. I could go safely through to this finish line; I had no punctures; I had no flat tyre; I just have a damaged body!

I know that somehow I was isolated quite early, but you can’t plan these things. If I went too early on the offensive, or not, I just tried to find moments where the right people are in the front, or the right teams, and then of course at the back they aren’t going to pull their own teammates. That’s how this roulette is called.

Of course I saw that there were still many, many attacks, I just had to pick up riders, or moments where I go behind them. On the radio, the car was always motivating me, telling me not to give up. I can’t go behind everyone, it’s not possible…

Fabian CancellaraQ: How do you feel about your third cobble?

FC: I’m sitting here and probably looking not so motivated, and not so happy, but I can tell you that I’m really, really tired. That’s probably why I’m looking like this. The third stone needs time - some more hours and days - to really realise what I’ve done.

My first two stones I won in a great way, but this third stone has another level of riding, cycling, that I’ve done today. I think I’m just happy; happy with the stone, happy with the double; a great history day again; a great Classic… I don’t say season, but from Sanremo until now I couldn’t believe that I could be up there so high for so long.

I’m just happy and looking forward to resting with the family.

Q: What did you say to Vanmarcke?

FC: Of course I knew that he’s a young rider, I knew that it’s the first time for him in a situation like this. It’s quite special. I knew my strengths, I knew my confidence, but in the end we spoke not so much. I tried to play the game, to make him pull, to make him tired as well, to show him that I would not just bring him to the finish line because I wasn’t riding for second place, and that’s what I told him.

When he’s not pulling I also don’t pull, that’s how it is, and he told me before the second last sector [Hem] that he will pull after that, but I said no, there’s no way that you [only] pull after the sector, because my problem was that I didn’t want to pull [alone] because - I won’t say I was scared - but you don’t know how hard other riders are.

My problem was just that on the cobblestones I couldn’t go forward - I had the feeling I went backwards - that’s why I was stronger on the normal roads, and I tried to do what I had in my mind to do.

Of course, Sep Vanmarcke will have his future, he will have other possibilities where he can battle for the victory.

I tried to play the game on the track, but still I don’t know how I did it, I just did it. I did it for sure to not lose, because that’s the last thing I wanted to do, to lose in a moment like this. It was like on the track, they do it standing still; the only moment I was a bit scared when we went a bit slow in the corner - not in the corner, but in the, how do you say, like there or there [points to both ends of the indoor track].

I tried just to do it. I had full cramps all over, I just pedalled as much as I could… I’m really happy.

I’m also happy for him [Vanmarcke]. A few weeks ago he was in Tirreno with a bad crash and for sure he has his upcoming future. So, also congratulations to Sep.

Q: What is your plan for the rest of the season?

FC: For now I will go in the bus and there will be Popovych special mix [music] he did some days ago! I’m looking forward to having a great dinner with the team, and have some fun, and enjoy this day, and enjoy the last weeks and months that we’ve been together.

I fly home tomorrow, and I will have a rest - recover - but at the moment there’s just question marks all over what will be the next thing. I’m not thinking of the next thing, I’m just thinking of resting, breathing the air, and we will see what will be the next race, and restarting and everything else.

Q: What will you do with your fourth cobble [next year, if he wins]?

FC: Actually I’m not thinking of the fourth stone. Mostly what I’m thinking is just resting and having my days off. Not just days off resting the body, but especially resting mentally because this was a mental stress probably more than body stress.

I know I’ve made history again, and that’s great, but for the fourth stone: that’s too far away.

Q: Who is best in the Classics, him or Boonen?

FC:
I have a lot of respect for Tom, and I also felt sorry when he crashed and couldn’t compete in these races. He’s born for the races, and I’m born for this, and we just love these races.

Who is better or not? Everyone has his speciality. Tom is a better sprinter, I’m maybe a better rouleur, but of course people think who is stronger or not. I think we’re just both strong in different ways, and that’s great. It’s good, it’s good for cycling.

It’s a battle, when we’re both strong at the same things, but it’s different; we have different levels of strongness (sic) and I think that’s just good.

I personally don’t like to say I’m stronger, or he’s stronger, I think we’re just both probably the strongest riders in the Classics; that’s my opinion, with the last victories in the last years, me and Tom have shown really that we’re the two greatest riders in the last few years in these races.

The rest is up to you, to the people outside; they can have their own opinions, of who they think - for them - is the better one. But in my opinion we’re both super-strong and it’s good.

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