An interview with Fabian Cancellara, April 9, 2006
83 years after Henri Suter became the first Swiss winner in the 1923 edition of Paris-Roubaix, Fabian Cancellara took the top spot in the Stade Vélodrome. Brecht Decaluwé was confronted with an emotional winner at the post-race press conference.
The massively strong Swiss was visibly emotional about his win, but sure the strongest man won the day: "Don't you think this was a demonstration?" Cancellara asked.
"For sure, I was the strongest man in the race. I was riding very strongly over the cobbles. Already in the Arenberg forest, I tried to form the decisive escape. My objective was to make the difference in this race. That's why I won. Not only did I win with my legs, but I was also very strong in my head. Also, the team did everything they could to support me."
On the disqualification of three riders, 'Cance' was less emotional. "I didn't know what happened behind me but I do know that it didn't change the name of the winner."
Asked when he thought Boonen was beatable, he said: "I knew it right at the start line in Compiègne."
"I came here to win the race. We didn't look to other riders or teams. Everybody is looking to Boonen, but he's the same as the rest - you've got to be strong in your head. That's why I always tried to react immediately when someone attacked. That way, I'm where I need to be and the attacker gets de-motivated because he's got someone on his wheel."
About being able to savour with victory with a solo finish in the Stade Vélodrome, Cancellara said: "It was a dream to arrive alone in the Vélodrome; Paris-Roubaix is on my palmarès now, that's great.
"I thought about the last lap and focused on not to crash. I saw the team director and started to calm myself. I enjoyed the atmosphere and tried to take on everything that came up in me.
"Lots of things were flashing through my head: being at the vélodrome, having the pleasure to come in alone, knowing what I did to achieve this, being only the second Swiss to win this race. It all comes back to this being a great victory. Looking to the riders that finished behind me, they are all champions - so am I. Honestly, one kilometre before the finish I was getting myself ready for the vélodrome."
Cancellara was also smiling a lot the final three kilometres. "I was in touch with the team car through the radio," he admitted. "I was constantly asking about the [time] differences I got.
"First it was ten seconds on Gusev, mounting to twenty, then becoming a minute. I just gave everything I had, full throttle. The headwind in the last kilometres was another problem. Today, my legs felt like they never did before; that was amazing. In the finale, I psychologically concentrated myself on the solo. I needed to pull off a time trial going to the finish."
Will this victory change anything, Cancellara was asked.
"My objectives will change," he conceded. "Last year, I wanted to come back and win this race one day. Today I did, so I'll need to look at other races now; last week, my conclusion [after the race] was that I can also win the Tour of Flanders. Now, I will enjoy some holidays because I did a lot of races in the early season. It's time to relax."