Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) has outlined his ambitions for this week’s world championships in Australia. The Swiss rider is chasing a record fourth world time trial title on Thursday and is also aiming to have his say in Sunday’s road race.
“I want to make history here,” Cancellara explained at a press conference in Geelong. “Coming after Mick Rogers, who won the time trial three times, it would be great to do better than him.”
Cancellara, who took the time trial rainbow jersey in 2006, 2007 and 2009, listed his Saxo Bank teammate Richie Porte among the pretenders to his crown. “He surprised the team and the cycling world with a super-great performance in the Giro d’Italia and also the rest of the season,” Cancellara said. “For me, for a first year as a professional, it’s been a great season.”
Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) is another rider widely touted to pose a stiff challenge to his superiority in the discipline, but Cancellara was sceptical about the thoroughness of the German’s preparation. “Tony Martin is getting closer, but I don’t understand why he did not finish the Tour of Britain because you have to have tough competition before a time trial like this,” he said.
Cancellara prepared for the Worlds by competing in the Vuelta a España. He abandoned on the last Friday of the race before confirming that he will leave Saxo Bank at the end of the season.
Although he suffered a surprise defeat in the Vuelta’s final race against the clock, Cancellara remains the favourite for the Worlds time trial on what will be a testing course over two laps of a 22.8km circuit. “It’s not enough to be strong,” he explained. “Because of the two climbs on the course, which you have to race twice, it’s a very difficult race. You have to have a tactical approach to the race and you have to even your forces out.”
After the time trial, all eyes will turn to Sunday’s road race, which takes place on a course where Cancellara’s attributes could well be decisive. Last year, he was the outright favourite on home roads in Mendrisio and carried the burden of making the race on his shoulders, but this time around, Cancellara will be looking to benefit from the work of other teams. “The Swiss team also does not have to bear the weight of the race, we can wait for the Belgians or Italians to do so.
“There are about 10 guys who can really win the race. But it is not like last year where I was a big favourite,” he continued. “I can choose when I want to put the hammer down.”
The pain of last year’s defeat clearly still motivates Cancellara, who was reportedly on the brink of forgoing the trip to Australia up to last week. Sunday’s fourth-place finish at the Herald Sun World Cycling Classic Ballarat was a demonstration that he rode himself into some kind of form during a difficult Vuelta and he is now looking to apply the lessons learned in Mendrisio twelve months ago, when Cadel Evans took home the rainbow jersey.
“I did all I could to stay at the front and attack, but that was not smart of me. Now I am in a better situation,” Cancellara said. “I don't know if Cadel Evans was stronger than me, but I was the strongest and Cadel was the smartest.”