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Defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek).
Leopard Trek racer sets modest objectives
Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) heads into Saturday's Monte Paschi Strade Bianche looking to ignite his season. The time trial world champion suffered a rare time trial defeat at the Tour of Oman but begins a crucial part of the spring this weekend which will see him lead the team at Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan San Remo.
"The training as been going fine and I've had some good feelings in my legs. It's a nice race here at Strade Bianche and I'm looking forward to it," Cancellara told Cyclingnews.
"I've already won it, and I'm looking ahead to a big block of racing now, starting tomorrow and then heading into Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan San Remo. I'm still trying to find some better condition, but I think it's coming."
In 2008, Cancellara won all three races in a blistering few weeks but despite not racing since the Tour of Oman, he believes that taking a rest and missing Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuure were the right choices. As for this weekend's hilly parcours and his chances, the Swiss time trial specialist has set himself one sole objective - to get the best out of himself.
"You can look back to different years, but the situations and the sensations are never the same. When I won Strade Bianchi a few years ago I didn't come with my best form and ended up winning at the first attempt. I'm sure that tomorrow I'll try and get the best out of myself, that's the mission."
The burden to secure Leopard Trek's inaugural win has already been lifted, after Dominic Klemme won La Samyn on Wednesday. Until that point Leopard had gone close, securing eight podium places.
"In one way it has taken away some pressure," Cancellara said, "but there's always pressure around us and we have to handle it. I heard how Dominic (Klemme) raced and apparently he was really classy and that makes the win so attractive. He had a tough start to the season but at the end of the day everything we win is important and it's important for everyone one on the team. We've been close a few times so to get a win is great but it's not like you can push a button and then you win. (Daniele) Bennati was close a few times but if we compare how we're going with a lot of other teams we're doing well."