Fabian Cancellara: "I'm not from another planet."
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fabian Cancellara: "I'm not from another planet."

by Jered Gruber at 7:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Swiss legend takes a hard look at his career so far and what's still to come.

Articles about Fabian Cancellara are not scarce. Getting a few words from the four-time World Champion is certainly not a rarity, but to find a piece, written by the Swiss rider himself, and blunt in its honesty and vast range, is indeed something special. Three days ago, Cancellara wrote a piece for SwissOlympic.ch about his thoughts on this year, the difference between goals and dreams, and his thoughts on the future.

Cancellara is just returning from his end of the year time away from the world, and his batteries are full.

"I'm doing very well after my vacation. I was far away at the beach, and now I'm feeling rejuvenated - exactly what I needed."

Early on in his piece, he makes note of a theme and concern that is voiced innumerable times throughout the rest of the article: "And I finally had time for my family - and that's the most important thing."

Life at the top isn't such an easy place to reside for Cancellara. He admits that it's a struggle, and it gets worse each year.

"Somehow, the stress just gets bigger - in any case, I always seem to have less time. Since the end of the season, others have five weeks of nothing. I do interviews and make appearances. I would rather hang Christmas lights, but when one is at the top, like I am, there is really no offseason anymore."

"With every win, the storm of attention grows bigger, with every honor, with every award. Everyone wants something from me."

The topic of awards is an interesting one, and as you would expect from the quotes above, it's something that Cancellara has mixed feelings about. The native of Bern describes receiving the Velo d'Or at the end of October as a great honor, but it also had a part to it that wasn't so great.

"For me, this award was naturally a great honor, but it was also another theft of my time. For other prizes, I had to decline attending. Sometimes, one must know how to say no. The family is more important."

Don't get him wrong though, being honored isn't something that Fabu minds very much: "Of course, these awards also make me proud - they honor an athlete not just for a single event, but for performance over an entire year. I'm proud, even if the honors pile up - it's always great to sit on the highest throne."

The other side of a great season
2010 might have been the Swiss rider's best season to date. His performances were incredible from start to finish, but to get that, requires a major undertaking, and Cancellara admits, "It was an enormously hectic season. Everything went so far. I was on the road 200-250 days this year. For the Tour de France alone, it was five weeks."

Cancellara returns to his family on this topic: "Sometimes it was hard. My family also wanted my time sometimes. That wasn't always easy. Sometimes, my wife and daughter were able to come along to races, depending on where it was - that's always the best: to spend the evening after a hard race with them."

The focused and driven Cancellara strikes back though: "To bring family and sport under the same umbrellas demands strict planning, a lot of time, and nerves, but when one wants success, you've got to give it everything."

Looking back at this season, Cancellara has countless victories to choose from, but it's one that involved his family that ranks highest.

"The best moment of the season? There were many. Maybe when I won Paris-Roubaix and my family was with me in the Velodrome. That was very special. The Tour de France was also a highlight - all the ups and downs, and the mixed feelings in the team. When I gave up the yellow jersey, and then got it back…"

Immense sporting success doesn't do much for Cancellara at home though. He admits that it doesn't really matter when it comes to his family.

"In my family, my performance isn't so important. When I win a race, I move on and look forward to the next one. It's not understood that I'll always win, but winning has become a part of my job, and with that, a routine of sorts."

Looking over his incredibly expansive palmares, Cancellara can't put his finger on one victory that stands above the rest.

"It has come to a point where there's almost no win that's a highlight anymore. I have a luxury problem."

No chance for the Tour de France
When one has won so many races, it's hardly notable that Cancellara is in search of new goals, new heights that need ascending, but there's one race that he admits is not attainable - the Tour de France.

"It's true, I've achieved just about everything that a cyclist can. I still have dreams. One should have dreams. A dream is, for example, owning an island in the Caribbean, or winning the Tour de France. This was my dream when I was 11 years old. Even if the pressure comes from all sides, I know, that I'll never achieve this dream. I will certainly retire before that's possible - I want to finally enjoy my life."

"It is exactly the impossibility that separates a dream from a goal. Goals can be achieved, when one works for them. Dreams aren't the same way. Athletes shouldn't dream - they should set goals and fight for them. I still have goals, but I have to admit - since I've won almost everything, it's not so easy to define my goals for next season. To write history is nice, and motivates me enormously, but it doesn't work for me as a goal."

As Cancellara begins to draw his article to a close, he takes a hard look at himself.

"Other things are more important to me than success, or being famous, or rich. You're not a better person, only because you're a champion. I'm not from another planet. I haven't changed, even if many people make me into something that I'm not. That's also sometimes fun."

"At the base level, there are more important things in life than sport. Cycling is not everything. Sport is my job and only a small part of my life. When the day comes that I retire, then it's done. Then I want to be able to say - I have done everything that I can."

Something will remain though.

"The thing that will always remain will be my family. My family is what counts in my life, as well as my close circle of friends. With this in mind, success has perhaps changed me: material things don't make me happy. I have a beautiful family and life, and that's much more important. And who knows - maybe we'll grow our family some more."

For the full article, please head over to SwissOlympic.ch.



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