Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) continued his fast start to his final season in the professional peloton by picking up his third win of 2016 at Strade Bianche on Saturday, out-foxing Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) in Siena's Piazza del Campo.
On Sunday morning, Cancellara lined up with his former Mapei teammates Paolo Bettini and Andrea Tafi, as well as some 2,500 amateur riders, to take part in the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche. The Swiss will return to competitive action at Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday, as he puts the finishing touches to his preparations for his last tilt at the Spring Classics.
Cancellara has seven Monuments to his name – three wins apiece at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, as well as the 2008 Milan-San Remo – and he is determined to add to that figure this year.
"Who has won more classics than me? Merckx, Hinault. That makes me happy," Cancellara told L'Équipe. [Cancellara has, in fact, won more Monuments than Bernard Hinault's five, but fewer than Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Costante Girardengo, Fausto Coppi, Sean Kelly and Rik Van Looy – ed.]
"All of that's in my pocket… But there's still a little bit of space in that pocket. San Remo, Flanders, Roubaix – it's not a secret, I want to win them this year. I want to go down in history."
After landing the Flanders-Roubaix double in 2010, Cancellara spoke of his desire to win all five of cycling's Monuments in his career, but he never participated in Liège-Bastogne-Liège or the Tour of Lombardy in the intervening period.
"At one point, I'd said I could win them all, but I spoke about it with Michele Bartoli and he said to me: 'I was never world champion, but you know, it didn't change my life…' Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy are impossible with my weight and I didn't want to slim down to try to win them," Cancellara said. "I found my territory, and it didn't encompass the Grand Tours, Liège or Lombardy."
In the wide-ranging interview with L'Équipe, Cancellara also spoke of the more difficult moments in his career, including the suspicions of motorised doping that following his 2010 Classics wins and the report in Belgian newspaper Le Soir in 2008 that named Cancellara in a list of 14 riders whose samples from that year's Tour de France were being re-tested for EPO-CERA. Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl were snared by the retroactive tests.
“Everyone was in the shit because of this story around Stefan Schumacher,” Cancellara said. “The story in 2008 made a lot of noise and it hurt me a lot. I gained ten kilos in the space of three weeks. I wasn't training anymore and I was eating… I went to the Maldives with my family and I stuffed myself from morning to night.”
Cancellara said that he dealt differently with the accusations of technological fraud arose in 2010. "I decided to look on the positive side. When I realised that thousands of people were watching videos of my attacks, I said to myself: 'I'm strangely popular…' And I took it as a compliment that people thought I needed to motor. Because the motor, I have it in my legs. Sometimes, when it's not going well in a race, I say to the others: 'Shit, today my motor is broken.'"