Fabian Cancellara was not satisfied with his 2014 season. It started out well with his third Tour of Flanders victory, but went downhill from there. And, he has admitted, he is still learning how to be a good team leader at Trek Factory Racing.
Cancellara is unhappy that he didn’t finish any of the summer stage races he rode in 2014 as he prepared for the world road race championships, where he finished a disappointing eleventh in the road race after struggling in the wet conditions.
"Going into a race knowing that I will leave it early – that is not good. It is not good for my motivation, not good for my image," he told Nzz.ch in a revealing interview from the Tour of Qatar. "And it is not good for the team. It is not a good signal when the leader abandons, even when there is a reason."
He is determined to live up to is role of team leader. "I am the leader of Team Trek. I am one of the reasons this team exists," he acknowledged.
However being a good leader is not necessarily about winning, Cancellara said. He is seeking to better himself by being a good example in ways other than success.
"For example in training camp. When the leader arrives and is grouchy, when he is always too late at the meeting point and the last on the climb – then that works negatively on the team," he explained. "But when the leader is fit and the first on the climb, when the others have to chase him because he is so unbelievably fit – then he is an example.
"To be a leader doesn't just mean to ride well and to take home the biggest wins. I have learned that."
Looking forward to weekends at home
Many of those who come up against him in the Classics are significantly younger than the Swiss rider, who turns 34 next month. He suggested that his age and experience give him a "certain composure," and described the younger riders a "more cold-blooded, more easy-going – and know that they still have many years ahead of them."
Cancellara admitted that he has noticed the physical effect of his age, as he begins his fifteenth season as a professional.
"I go to the chiropractor and osteopath more frequently than before," he said. "I have noticed that the ability of my body to recover has not really gotten better since I broke my collarbone three years ago."
Cancellara plans to retire after the 2016 season, and is keen to spend more time with his family at home in Switzerland.
"I am looking forward to a normal weekend. To be home not for just one weekend, but many weekends in a row. But I think that first I will have to get used to this new sense of freedom."