Fabian Cancellara talks 2009 and plans towards next season
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Fabian Cancellara talks 2009 and plans towards next season

by Conal Andrews at 7:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Given the impression he made on the season, it’s easy to forget that for much of the early part of the year, Fabian Cancellara was struggling to find his form. The big Swiss competitor won the opening time trial of the Tour of California, but then withdrew from the race the very next day due to illness.

The former Milan San Remo and Paris-Roubaix winner was then practically invisible in the Classics and anonymous in the Giro, before bouncing back with the two stage wins plus the overall victory in the Tour de Suisse, as well as the national road race title.

That set him up for a strong Tour de France, where he won the opening time trial, held the yellow jersey until the first mountain stage and finished a close second behind Alberto Contador in the final time trial.

The momentum continued into the final part of the season, with the Vuelta a España bringing him two TT wins plus another stint in a Grand Tour leader’s jersey. He quit the race and prepared for the Mendrisio world championships, and went on to excel on home soil when he dominated the time trial and finished a strong fifth in the road race.

"It is really difficult to point out the biggest victory this year,” he admitted. “It is easier to identify the most significant achievements, those that have had the greatest personal impact on me. For me it's not just about the victory. It matters how I win.

“The world championship time trial in front of my home audience was as a unique moment that I will never forget. It was specifically memorable to feel the atmosphere and the encouragement from my fans and it gives me the motivation and ability to make the body burn inside when it truly has to hurt in order to have a slight chance of winning.”

He mentions his Tour de Suisse, Tour de France and Vuelta a España performances as also being of considerable satisfaction to him. They more than made up for that slow start. “It has given me great morale and motivation, after a somewhat disappointing spring where the results did not meet my own expectations,” he said.

Cancellara has long been regarded as the best time trialist in the sport and is expected to win every time he starts the race of truth. Three TT world championships are testimony to that talent, but it’s not easy for someone to always be identified as the man to watch.

“There is always plenty of pressure when I am doing a time trial,” he admitted. “Everyone expects me to win every time and it's this kind of mental pressure that I have to deal with. I have my own expectations, though, and they are much more important. I don’t let other people's expectations get on my nerves. Instead, I am motivated by them and, just like everyone else, I need support from colleagues, fans and friends in order to achieve my goals. The support is like gasoline in my engine.”

With the season now over, Cancellara has made sure to spend plenty of time with his family and friends, the people who he is often away from during the year. He’s kept in shape by playing tennis, doing some jogging and also heading out on the mountainbike.

He’s now upping the time on his bike, prior to Saxo Bank’s famous off-bike survival camps with the former Special Forces soldier, B. S. Christiansen:

"I am excited to see what BS has in store for us,” he said, relishing the challenge. “It is rarely boring when we get together and it is particularly exciting to go on a training camp at the new resort, Playitas which is presumably warmer than the autumn in Bern.

“This training camp is one of the things that make Team Saxo Bank particularly unique through the activities which bring us closer together than on many other teams. I am looking forward to the social contact with colleagues and friends on the team and I think it's great fun being active in a different way than the usual training”.

The team will spend 14 days there and part of that time will be spent discussing his plans and programme for 2010. While that schedule is not yet laid out, he wants to make amends for this year’s off-form spring.

“It is too early to tell which races I will be focusing on in the coming season, but I am very motivated to do well in the spring Classics. I will talk with Bjarne Riis on the further details. For me it is important to have objectives as focal points throughout the season which can keep me going.”

One of those is undoubtedly going to be the world road race championships. He finished fifth this year but, had things played out differently, could well have landed his second medal of that week. Next year’s course in Australia is far flatter and could suit him. The sprinters will try to make the most of their first real opportunity since Zolder in 2002, but the big Swiss rider will also head there fancying his chances.


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