On the start line of stage 7 at the Vuelta a España on the Miguel Indurain avenue in Murcia, Fabian Cancellara had a big laugh at being dubbed "the 3 million euro man". It was reported in the media yesterday that team Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis was prepared to let another team buy out his contract for the somewhat ridiculous price of 3 million euros.
Cancellara has one more year on his contract with the Danish outfit, but he has been courted by several other teams. He said on his personal website earlier this week that he was open to new ideas, but said today that he hadn't heard any such statements from Riis about a buy-out price.
"I don't know where that came from," Cancellara told Cyclingnews. "I've seen some stuff on the internet but I don't know if these are really quotes from Bjarne Riis. When I post something on my official website, you can be sure this is what I want people to know, but I haven't seen anything like that from Bjarne yet. Anyway, Bjarne is going to visit us at the Vuelta sometimes and we'll speak about it. For now, the less I talk about it, the better."
Cancellara didn't know when the meeting might take place but sources at Saxo Bank indicated that Riis is going to join his team at the Vuelta on the first rest day in Tarragona on Monday.
On a sporting aspect, he talked about the Vuelta. "I'm taking it day by day," the Olympic champion said. "Normally I'm here to prepare for the world championships but if I don't have the right condition, I might re-consider my participation to the Worlds because I can only lose." In the past four years, Cancellara has won the world championship for time trial three times plus the Olympic title, and he'd like to remain unbeaten.
The coming two weeks at the Vuelta will give him the right indications about his condition and his motivation to make an attempt to become the first man to claim four world titles for time trial. Michael Rogers also won three of them (2003, 2004 and 2005). Cancellara's ultimate goal, however, is to win the road race.