Fabian Cancellara was in Oudenaarde today to welcome a new supporters club at the Centrum van de Ronde van Vlaanderen - a museum devoted to the Tour of Flanders.
The winner of the 2010 edition of the race took time out of the celebration to speak about the tumultuous time that the sport of cycling is going through in the wake of the doping case of Lance Armstrong.
"We are going through a difficult period," he told Sporza.be. "But cycling will never die, This sport is much too beautiful."
Cancellara is currently part of the RadioShack-Nissan team, having been absorbed by the merger between Leopard Trek and the team of Johan Bruyneel, who still faces his own arbitration in the US Anti-Doping Agency's case of doping conspiracy. Bruyneel was forced out of the organisation last month after the release of USADA's reasoned decision that detailed the coordinated doping of the US Postal Service team under the Belgian.
The Swiss rider hopes that people can finally close the chapter on the sport's doping past, "and get away from that negativity".
"We no longer have to go back to the time when doping was like drinking water," he said. "I will not go into details about what has happened in the past. I am not a judge."
Cancellara is already focused on the coming season, in which he hopes to return to the top of the podium in the Classics.
"I'm looking forward to 2013," he said. "I have been at a camp in the Alps at about 3500 meters. That was the symbolic start of my new season."
After a difficult 2012 which included a crash in the Tour of Flanders that left him with a shattered collarbone, a return to form for the Tour de France and Olympic Games but then another crash in the road race that left him out of contention for any medals, Cancellara said he is recovered on all levels.
"Mentally I am certainly ready, and everything is good on physical level. I want to be there at 100%; I also believe in the power of the RadioShack team."