The Trek Factory Racing rider will turn 34 on Wednesday but seems to be successfully fighting back the years this season after an excellent winter of training, largely spent at home with his family, due to a mild Swiss winter.
Cancellara seemed to fight his new time trial bike in the opening time trial in Lido di Camaiore last Wednesday and was beaten by younger rival Adriano Malori (Movistar). Despite complaining about racing in the snow on Sunday, the tough week at Tirreno-Adriatico has apparently done him good and left him on form just in time for his big block of monumental classics.
“Time trials perhaps no longer give me the motivation they once did, but today is my last day aged 33, so I’ll be turning a page tomorrow. It’s a little thing but it gave me a little extra motivation, and that allows me to find a bit more. It is the fruit of experience,” Cancellara said in the post-race press conference.
“I’d prefer not to go into what happened in the opening time trial, because I think there were too many mistakes, and if I start listing them, I’ll never stop. Today, I managed not to make the same mistakes and today’s performance is more representative of my level. I lost by five hundredths of a second that day. I’m not saying that if I had ridden like this on day one, I would have won by 5 seconds, but it went well for me today.”
Cancellara likes to line up his goals and face them one by one. The questions quickly turned to Milan-San Remo.
Cancellara won the Classicissima in 2008 with a solo attack on the flat road after the hair-raising descent of the Poggio. That year the finish was on the seafront. This year it returns to the legendary Via Roma in the centre of San Remo. Cancellara finished in the pack in 2006, watching from behind as former Mapei teammate Filippo Pozzato won alone. He is probably hoping for a similar scenario for Sunday but knows the weather will be a vital factor in deciding the longest and most finely balanced Classic of the season.
“I ride to win and have done that for a long time now. Milan-San Remo is the next goal, even if it’s like trying to buy the winning ticket in the lottery,” he said.
“Before thinking about Milan-San Remo, I need to rest up and see what the weather will be like so we can understand what might happen in the race. The weather is the most important factor; it changes the nature of the race. We all know who the favourites are, and there are lots of them. We know that removing Le Manie and returning the finish to Via Roma changes everything, although exactly what it will change, we don’t know. We will find out on Sunday.”