Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) has played down any possibility that he may re-commence his attack on the Hour Record. Cancellara says that the decision by the UCI to alter the equipment regulations left him with little motivation to make an attempt.
“I really started this hour and then suddenly it gets changed from the UCI in a way that I don’t have this motivation,” Cancellara said during a conference call from his team’s latest training camp in Majorca.
“At the moment I am focussing on other things and not who is doing it or where they’re doing it or how it’s going to go,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is make a one-hour show and at the moment it looks like everyone wants to do a show.”
The Trek Factory Racing rider was due to take on the challenge last season but called an abrupt halt to the project. In the end it was his teammate Jens Voigt who became the first rider of the new era to set a benchmark. Matthias Brändle broke the record the following month and since then there has been a plethora of riders putting their hats in the ring. Several are due in the coming weeks but Cancellara believes that it will be Bradley Wiggins’ attempt this summer that will stand the test of time.
“I think when Bradley Wiggins does it, it will stick for a long, long time because he is a master on the track.”
Before Wiggins switches his focus back to the track in April, he will be going up against Cancellara on his favourite terrain – the cobbles – and Cancellara isn’t going to underestimate his rival. “It’s not just talk he made it is a really serious thing. He prepared last year and he came pretty close and he impressed a lot of people. Roubaix is a special race and Bradley is a serious contender,” Cancellara said.
“What Bradley will do at the moment, nobody knows. We know that he is going to go for Roubaix but he can also be competitive for Flanders. We know Bradley when he focusses on things he normally somehow achieves it. He is one of those contenders that people can look at.”
Staying on top
Cancellara is keen to get much more out of this year’s Classics than his solitary Tour of Flanders title. Most would have been happy with their seventh monument victory but the ever competitive Cancellara said that, with only one other victory in 2014, it wasn’t enough to keep him happy. He admits that perhaps he got things a little wrong last season.
“I didn’t really perform in the races I wanted to. I focussed too much maybe on the Worlds,” Cancellara said. “This coming season I will not just focus on the classics and then the Worlds. I will focus on the first races that will come and then try to compete and do the basic things and then grow up in a pyramid. The top is where the classics are. The top of this pyramid must be the big races.”
With Cancellara set to retire in 2016, the guard is definitely changing on the cobbles. Last season saw him in a four-way tussle at the Tour of Flanders with Greg Van Avermaet, Sep Vanmarcke and Stijn Vandenbergh. The experience paid off but he was out-done a week later by Niki Terpstra and John Degenkolb at Paris-Roubaix.
Cancellara is aware that they are ready to make the next step but he isn’t going to make it too easy for them. He admits, though, that he will have to dig deep if he’s going to beat the younger generation. “Of course I have to work harder, that’s the truth. I worked hard last year but it wasn’t hard enough so now I need to work much harder,” he said.
“I’m training always hard but I have to train and adapt things that I can use. I want to race smart but on the other hand I want to be stronger than the other guys. That is what I need. My experience helped me last year a lot to win but also to how the race came and how things were in the end.”
Cancellara is targeting his fourth title at both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this season. Along with regular rival Tom Boonen, he has enjoyed relative dominance on the cobbles over the past decade. The two have become good friends over the years and with Boonen due to become a father for the first time, he had some kind words to say of his old rival.
“Honestly, I’m more happier for that then I am for anything else. I’m really happy for the situation and I’m hoping that everything becomes good and Lori and the twins are healthy and that’s the biggest thing.”
Cancellara will have the help of Boonen’s old teammate Gert Steegmans, who was picked up by the Trek Factory Racing team after he was unable to secure a new contract with Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Steegmans spent the past four seasons on the Belgian team, riding in support of Boonen and Mark Cavendish in the sprints.
“I think that everyone knows how he can sprint and the lead-outs that he can do,” Cancellara explained. “He’s a bad-ass sometimes but a good bad-ass. He did some lead-outs where he could win but in the end he didn’t get the win because he’s a helper. In the end he cannot just help, he can also win races but you have to take your opportunity. Believe me, he will get his opportunities in this team.”
Steegmans brings more than a decade of experience in the peloton and, most importantly, in the Belgian classics. He will have a key place in Cancellara’s support network at the Classics, and the Swiss rider is keen to make sure that he slots in well.
“I will do my best to implement him rightly in our set up because he will have a strong role and an important role because he is a very good rider,” Cancellara said. “He knows a lot in Belgium, he knows a lot about things in general. He will help me a lot and that’s my challenge to grow with him and for him to understand the way I’m working.”