Fabian Cancellara on track for the Cobbled Classics
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Cancellara on track for the Cobbled Classics

by VeloNation Press at 11:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders

With Fabian Cancellara's strong end to the 2009 season, it's easy to forget that last year at this time the reigning time trial World Champion was struggling to find any semblance of form. He began his season at the Tour of California, and announced his presence by scorching the opening prologue and riding himself into the leader's jersey. The following day he withdrew from the race due to illness.

Cancellara's run of bad luck with his health continued after leaving the United States, preventing him from defending his titles in both Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo. Missing races crucial to building up his form made the Swiss rider practically invisible in the Spring Classics and anonymous in the Giro d'Italia.

After putting in some solid racing miles at the Italian Grand Tour, he went home to the Tour de Suisse and won two stages plus the overall, as well as the national road race title. When he arrived at the Tour de France in Monoco he took out the opening time trial and held onto the yellow jersey until the first mountain stage.  He then finished a close second to overall winner Alberto Contador in the race's final time trial. He went on to win both time trials in the Vuelta a Espana, and then capped his year off with the world time trial title in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

So far 2010 has gone well for 'Spartacus'. He finished second in the closing time trial of the inaugural Tour of Oman, which was enough for him to take home the overall win.  He rode well in the Strade Bianche last week, a race that included eight sectors of gravel roads that totalled 57.2 of the race's 190 kilometres. With the Tour of Flanders a month away, the man from Bern says he's on the right track for spring success.

"Things are going according to plan. I am where I expected to be," he told Swiss newspaper Der Bund. He's currently in Italy racing at Tirreno-Adriatico, and has his sites set on the Tour of Flanders. "The race [Flanders] is still missing in my palmares," he said.  "Of the five monuments it is perhaps the most difficult to win. Milan-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia are the other five great classics in addition to the Tour of Flanders."

He has ridden in Flanders every year since 2003, with his best result being sixth place four years ago. In last year's edition Cancellara broke his chain on the Koppenberg at the worst possible time and had to abandon the race.

After riding the pavé in Paris-Roubaix Cancellara's schedule isn't completely decided, but he said he will skip the Giro d'Italia, which means he could take part in the Tour of California, and will be riding the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. He said he's not really thinking about focusing on another world time trial:  "I don't want to sound arrogant, but it's boring to always win the same race. The [world champion] title in the road race attracts me more."

Speculation in recent weeks have connected him to a team that Saxo Bank teammates Andy and Frank Schelck are rumored to be putting together for 2011. He said he doesn't know anything about the team, and will just concentrate on his racing.

"For me, everything will continue normally. Many people talk about creating their own team," he said. "When it comes to the financial details, they are then somewhat quieter. If I had money I would also work to establish my own team. To achieve that sort of project I'm missing about 15 million euro per year," he added.

This year marks Cancellara's tenth season as a professional cyclist, and when asked how the attitude against doping has changed things he said, "The riders are not talking about doping as much as they used to."  He thinks that over the past few years the sport has done well in the fight against doping: "We are on the right track, and I think that other sports will benefit from the measures that cycling has taken [to fight doping]."

The International Cycling Union has implemented a biological passport program and whereabouts system in the sport to monitor biological changes in riders that could indicate doping. "I have always treated the inspectors with respect, and they have to me," he said. Last season he had around 60 samples collected from him.  This year the biological passport will be introduced to other sports.


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