Classics winner, maillot jaune, transfer target, world champion, YouTube sensation… Whatever way you look at it, Fabian Cancellara was ubiquitous in 2010, and the Swiss rider has added yet another victory to a mammoth year by being crowned Male Road Rider of the Year in Cyclingnews’ annual reader poll.
From Oman in February right through to Geelong in October, Cancellara was a constant presence at the head of affairs all season long, clocking up some breathtaking victories along the way.
The highlights of his season undoubtedly came on the cobbles in the spring. Cancellara began his classics campaign by overwhelming Tom Boonen in the final kilometre of the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke and that show of strength was merely a foretaste of what was to come.
The following Sunday at the Tour of Flanders, Cancellara again dominated Boonen, this time far more decisively and publicly, by dropping him the steep slopes of the Muur-Kapelmuur in front of thousands of adoring Belgian fans. By the time Paris-Roubaix came around seven days later, the only real question would be Cancellara’s final margin of victory. The Swiss floated clear of the lead group near Mons-en-Pévèle with over 50km to go and devoured the cobbles all the way to the velodrome in Roubaix to win by two minutes.
"I knew that with my form and the way the last few weeks were going that they'd be scared of me,” Cancellara said afterwards. "I wanted the double. I wanted to do something that left a mark in the history of cycling.”
Such dominance came at a price, however. When the dust settled on the cobbled classics, a YouTube clip suggesting that Cancellara had made use of an electric motor in his bike began to do the rounds and gain currency through May and June. Just as the whispering campaign reached fever pitch, the UCI responded with the kind of decisiveness that has been so sorely lacking in its efforts to combat doping and introduced the scanning of bikes in time for the Tour de France prologue.
Cancellara responded in the best possible manner, by dominating the Tour prologue and putting the insinuations to bed. “After the race, they scanned my bike, and I said to them, ‘You better scan me, because I am the motor,’” Cancellara joked as he drew a line under the affair.
As maillot jaune, he served as Tour patron by neutralising the race to help his Saxo Bank teammate Andy Schleck return from a crash on the road to Spa. He would enjoy six days in yellow and then went on to be one of Schleck’s key Lieutenants throughout the three weeks, before book-ending his Tour with another time trial win in Pauillac.
The second half of Cancellara’s season was dominated by his drawn-out departure from Bjarne Riis’ Saxo Bank set-up for pastures new-ish at the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project. Meanwhile, the hysteria that followed his failure to win the Vuelta a España’s main time trial was emblematic of just how dominant the Swiss has become in the discipline and he allayed any fleeting fears that he had been exposed to Kryptonite by comfortably securing a fourth world time trial title in Geelong.
Cancellara dominated our reader poll, securing over 52% of the votes cast. The stylish Philippe Gilbert's delightfully consistent spring allied to his sparkling autumn form was enough to earn him a distant second place in the poll. The classy Belgian edged out Cancellara’s teammate Andy Schleck, while world champion Thor Hushovd finished ahead of Mark Cavendish in fourth.
Cyclingnews Reader Poll results – Best male road rider
Fabian Cancellara, 8880 votes
Philippe Gilbert, 2361
Andy Schleck, 2063
Thor Hushovd, 1240
Mark Cavendish, 754
Cadel Evans, 739
Vincenzo Nibali, 428
Joaquim Rodriguez, 192
Andre Greipel, 71
Michael Rogers, 59