Cañada reflects on career cut short by health problems
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cañada reflects on career cut short by health problems

by Bjorn Haake at 3:53 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Will forever remember his 2000 Tour de France performance

david canadaDavid Cañada announced his retirement from professional cycling in January 2010, plagued by health problems. After a melanoma diagnosed in 2007, Cañada never regained his previous health state and doctors advised him to retire. Despite being forced to quit the peloton involuntarily, Cañada can look back at a 14-year career that started in 1996 with the Spanish ONCE team.

Cañada had made himself a name in Spanish amateur cycling, without even trying. "I only thought of doing what I liked," Cañada told He was called by Manolo Saiz at the end of Cañada's first amateur season, when he was still only 20 years old. "Initially I thought it was a joke by a teammate," he remembered the call by Saiz. "But then I realized it was serious. I debuted at the Mallorca Challenge [in 1995], although the rest of the year I continued with my team, CAI." In 1996 ONCE picked him up for real.

Cañada will forever remember the 2000 Tour de France. "It is one of my best memories, although to be honest I didn't even know what I had achieved in those first days of the Tour until a few years ago." He had an extremely good start. "I was fifth in the prologue, behind Millar, Armstrong, Ullrich and Jalabert - I think it was one of my best results. Then we won the team time trial and I was in second place overall for a few days." He also led the young rider's competition for a bit, eventually settling for a 33rd place overall.

His results in the first years with Once netted him a call by Mapei. "It was the most powerful team at the time and I just couldn't reject the offer they made me." Cañada emphasized that he had learned a lot at Once. "On the other hand I think it is good to change team once in a while. There is always something to learn."

Cañada praised the Mapei team, but was already fighting against injuries. "It was a great team that treated its rider well, very professionally. But with
so many people, group life is difficult. In my case it was also [hard] that I was injured most of the season." In his first year at Mapei, he suffered from Achilles tendonitis twice. "In my second year, I broke my collarbone two times."

He was one year with Quick Step, which had emerged out of Mapei, but moved on to Saunier Duval in 2004, which was a new team at the time. "I was the first rider to sign a contract and for me it was really special to see a team start from scratch."

In 2007 he was diagnosed with melanoma. "The melanoma wasn't bad, because it was really small. I just started to take care of myself with respect to the sun." But this still wasn't the end of his suffering. "The bad part came at the end of 2008, when metastasis in ganglions in my arm developed. When they were removed, I had to spend all of 2009 in treatment."

He had stayed with the team, then known as Fuji - Servetto. But in 2009 he could train hard only occasionally and often had to take a rest, even after minor workouts.

Cañada does not waste any time on what could have been with his career, if he would have had less health troubles. "I started cycling because I enjoyed it, and I maintained this desire over all those years."

He was sidelined when his team was plagued by the doping scandal surrounding Riccardo Riccó, but received the news. "I was very sad, for the team put in so much effort to get to this level, then it tumbled in a few days."

On January 21, 2010, he officially announced his retirement. "The doctors recommended that I shouldn't race anymore." They weren't worried so much about his physical state for the efforts in pro racing. But a simple crash could have caused infections in the ganglion area that they had to operate on during his cancer. "I was already playing too much with my health. You can spend one season without a crash or you can crash ten times in the first month."

Two of his victories stand out - the first and the last. "In Murcia [overall win in 2000 - ed.] because it was the first. The last one in the Volta a Catalunya [2006] on the other hand was the most important."

Cañada calls Angel Gomez "Litu" his true friend in the peloton, but he had many other roommates that he enjoyed over the years. "I have special memories about Bettini and Jalabert, because in addition to being great champions, they are great persons."

Cañada stays involved in cycling. He is the coach for the U23 of the Aragón region in Spain.


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