Fabian Cancellara on riding the Pavé: 'I was born for this'
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fabian Cancellara on riding the Pavé: 'I was born for this'

by Steve Jones at 4:17 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Reining World and Olympic time trial champion ready for battle

Fabian CancellaraFollowing his dominating performance in last weekend's E3-Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke, four-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) goes into today's Tour of Flanders as the odds on favorite. The Swiss rider went from the back to the front of the peloton in the Belgian semi-classic over a span of 30 kilometers and, despite several mechanical problems on the day, left the entire field in his wake. With 16 kilometers remaining Cancellara hit the gas in the front group and simply rode away from the competition. He crossed the finish line celebrating his win with a minute in hand.

While some favorites opted to skip E3-Prijs and ride Gent-Wevelgem the following day, the event still showcased a strong field that included Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM), and world champion Thor Hushovd as well as his Garmin-Cervelo teammate Heinrich Haussler. Cancellara acknowledged to RMC Sport yesterday that he should be considered the race favorite after his performance in Harelbeke. Pressure is something that the Leopard-Trek rider thrives on, and he admitted he's happy to carry that weight on the roads of Flanders later today.

"No, it is clear," he said of being the person everyone will watch. "Especially with what happened on Saturday and the dossard I will wear Sunday." As defending champion Spartacus has said he is ready for a repeat victory. "I feel good," he said, "I've done everything to be 100 percent, and that is the most important thing for me."

When asked what makes him different from the others, he looks back to his roots. "I have something that gives me the strength to work hard," he explained. "Ultimately, all of the riders have talent to be a [pro] cyclist. Is it that I'm working harder? I don't know," he questioned. "Some people say I am Bernese hard, but I'm just trying to do my job the best I possibly can."

He will go into the Tour of Flanders aiming to pull off a double double, having his focus not only on winning the Ronde, but also following through on the Pavé du Nord in Paris-Roubaix the following Sunday. Cancellara easily won both races one year ago, and will start tomorrow with an aura of intimidation on his side.

Most riders fear the pavé, but the Swiss rider thrives on the challenges it presents. "I adapt," he said when asked about the cobblestones. "I simply think that I was born for this. The rest is mental labour. In my view, the head represents at least 50 percent of your success, and the legs only 30 percent sometimes." There is no doubt he will start with a mental advantage over the rest.

Cancellara points out that last week's Gent-Wevelgem winner Tom Boonen isn't the only rider he needs to keep an eye on. "There is not only Tom," he commented. "I have great respect for the other riders. There is [Philippe] Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), and others... The list is long for this race, but I am afraid of nobody. I know that I am ready, the rest I can't do anything about. Everyone saw the race [last] Saturday and the others are more afraid of me than I am of them," he concluded.


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