Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) has confirmed that he will return to racing at the Tour des Fjords later this month. The Norwegian race, which begins in two weeks’ time, will be Cancellara’s first competitive outing since breaking two vertebrae in March. Speaking in an extensive interview on the Trek Factory Racing website, Cancellara reveals that he had considered starting earlier but he and the team finally settled on Norway.
“We considered doing California or the Giro [d’Italia], but in the end I’ll restart in the Norway at the Fjords race,” Cancellara explained. “I’m happy the decision is taken. I don’t like it very much when things are in the air. I’m already in the air with the weather, trying to figure which way to ride out on training.”
When he lines up in Bergen on May 27 it will be two months to the day that Cancellara last raced, after breaking two vertebrae in a crash at E3 Harelbeke. Almost half of that time has been spent just recovering, with just over a month’s worth of training to get him ready enough to compete. However, the Swiss rider is not worried about his level – or how much of it has gone – but getting back into the rhythm of racing.
“It’s not really a matter of how much shape I lost,” he said. “I find it hard to express that in percentages or something. More than anything it’s about the routine you lose. When I restarted training I was really tired after a 3.5 hours ride. The next day I did four hours and I was even more spent. So yeah, it’s a matter of getting used to the workload again.”
At the Tour des Fjords Cancellara will go up against the defending champion, and the rider who succeeded him as the Tour of Flanders champion, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). The E3 Harelbeke crash denied Cancellara an opportunity to go up against Kristoff to defend his title, and he had to sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the cobbled Classics. It was a long road back to just training on the bike but finally the Swiss is on the right track.
“I have been pain-free since about a week. I still feel it after training, but it’s okay now,” he said. “I didn’t ride my bike for three weeks. I was frustrated and bored, because there was nothing I could do. When you crash by your own mistake, you blame yourself. The circumstances of my crash are unclear, I don’t remember much, but there was nothing I could do.
“It was return to sender three weeks earlier than planned. The kids had holiday so we went to Bad Ragaz to get away from everything. I watched Flanders and Roubaix on the television.”
Having to sit out of two of his biggest goals for the season was a tough blow for Cancellara but it is nothing that he hasn’t been through before, and he was able to draw on past experiences to pull him through this latest disappointment.
“I learned my lesson in 2012 when I broke my collarbone in Flanders and then crashed myself out of the Olympic road race,” said Cancellara. “The 2012 experience has helped me a lot to deal with this misfortune. My world came down then, this time it was different. Especially, because there was nothing I could do. There’s no surgery for vertebrae. I just had to wait until the pain was gone.”