Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) will use the Tour de France to tailor his preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games and has hinted that he will not play as prominent a part in supporting Andy Schleck’s yellow jersey challenge as he has done in recent years.
In an interview with Vélo Magazine, Cancellara was reticent to entertain the possibility of abandoning the Tour early in order to recover for the London road race, which takes place just five days after the Grande Boucle ends in Paris. However, he admitted that he would not be “110 percent” dedicated to his team’s overall challenge in France this year.
“It’s not good to talk about a premeditated abandon at the Tour de France, because the Tour de France is to be respected,” Cancellara said. “I prefer to say that I’m going to use the Tour to be at 100 percent for London. I already know how I’m going to proceed in July. I’ve spoken about it with Johan Bruyneel and we’re both in agreement on the matter.
“You won’t see me at the back of the peloton during the race, I’ll do my work. But one thing is certain: in July I won’t be 110 percent for the others as I have been in the past. I’ll only be thinking of myself and on being concentrated on my objectives.”
After losing his world time trial crown to Tony Martin in Copenhagen last September, Cancellara is determined to regain his position at the top of the time trialling tree by winning gold at the London Olympics.
“Copenhagen woke me up. ‘Oh Fabian, come back down to earth,’ that’s what I understood there. For Copenhagen, I had worked to have a good condition, but not specifically for the time trial. So in London, I can only be better,” he said.
“At the beginning of this year, I’m a bit like Federer, finally – at the level of the very best, but without having won one of the big trophies for a long time. The time has come for me to write a new page in the history of cycling.”
Cancellara fired a warning shot to his rivals by winning Strade Bianche at the weekend, and the Swiss rider approaches the forthcoming Classics campaign keen to make amends for his near-misses of 2011. Although he finished on the podium at Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, 'Spartacus' fell just short of victory in each monument, but he insisted that he was the strongest man on the cobbles.
“With Nuyens at Flanders and Vansummeren at Roubaix, it was ‘foot soldiers’ who won. If you analyse it a bit, of the big favourites, I was the one who finished first in those classics,” he said. “Ok, they’re not victories but I did great things physically. I went beyond myself, much more than normal, almost to death.”
Cancellara recalled in particular his forlorn pursuit of Vansummeren in the closing kilometres of Paris-Roubaix. "I gave more than normal but I wanted them to crack behind, to lay down their arms finally and show everyone that I was the strongest. Since those two Classics, my number of supporters has increased, and even in the media, I didn’t see criticism of me, even though I didn’t win.”