Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) has downplayed speculation that he will definitely forgo the Tour de France, telling reporters that he will not make a decision on his participation until after he has completed his spring classics campaign.
Reports in the Swiss media at the weekend had suggested that Cancellara had already decided to skip the Tour, but speaking at the Tour of Qatar on Tuesday night, he said that his 2013 programme was decided only up as far as Paris-Roubaix in early April.
"The main focus will be the classics," said Cancellara, who explained that he will line up in the Tour of Oman, Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix in the coming two months, while Amstel Gold Race is also a possibility.
"And the rest of the season? We leave it for now. I know that there was a lot of talk about me not going to the Tour de France because there’s no prologue and this and that, but on the other hand, it’s the classics first, and then after that I want to see what the next step is."
Cancellara did hint that he would be tempted to make a concerted attempt to win the world championships road race in Florence in September, on an exacting course which includes the demanding climb to Fiesole. "I’m looking forward to the world championships in Florence, even if I haven’t seen yet the parcours or heard a lot about it. But when we go down to Italy maybe I will get a chance to see it," he said.
Cancellara also said that regaining the world time trial title he last won in 2010 would not be a priority. “The time trial at the Worlds is not in my head,” he said. “I have no ambition for the time trial, but I have huge ambitions for the classics.”
The Swiss rider, whose 2012 classics campaign was ruined by a broken collarbone sustained in a crash at the Tour of Flanders, said that, as ever, Milan-San Remo, Flanders and Paris-Roubaix would be the pinnacle of his spring, and that a long-touted tilt at Liège-Bastogne-Liège would have to wait for another year.
Asked about Sky’s decision to send it classics squad to a training camp in Tenerife rather than ride Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, Cancellara said: "Everyone does what’s best for them. If they want to go to Teide, I’m not jealous. For me, I need to ride Tirrreno-Adriatico to prepare the classics."