Newly-crowned four-time time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara believes his latest world title could have been his most difficult to achieve to date.
Cancellara took another elite men's TT in Geelong, Australia, this afternoon by a convincing margin in excess of one minute, beating Britain's David Millar and German Tony Martin over a testing 45.8km parcours. While it may have been overshadowed by the news concerning Alberto Contador's positive doping test, the Swiss was still the toast of the cycling world after his historic ride.
"This may be the hardest one of the four; I came here not 100 percent [sure] of where I'd be standing. In the end, since I did the Vuelta I started being really focused [on the Worlds] and doing everything I could to be 100 percent, to come into this day to do whatever I could, which is a 100 percent performance on this really, really hard parcours," said Cancellara.
"From the beginning I didn't expect it would be so hard but in the end I learnt a lot [more] than in the other years when people said, 'Ah, it looks like this or that...' In the end when you see it for real you can see how it is.
"Like Tony Martin said before, he also expected a different parcours - it was the same for everybody and I did what I had to do and that was ride 100 percent perfect. I did a good tactic to not ride too fast in the beginning because I knew in the end it was going to be really, really hard with the wind and these two climbs.
Cancellara looked physically relieved to have secured his record-breaking fourth world title, given the drama surrounding his exit from the Vuelta and ongoing speculation about his future.
"When I came here I didn't have the same power in my body because when you win three times and you come close to a fourth time you need to find some more motivation - this motivation was to make history and that was the big thing that was keeping me focused," he explained.
"It's never easy, because people think I'm riding with one leg and I always win easily but it's never easy to win bike races. Even when people expect that I'm going to win at the start, it's not true. There are always riders who keep trying [to beat me] and they're hungry from the start."
It caps off what has been another stellar season for the Saxo Bank rider, who could soon be on the move from Bjarne Riis' team. A year that included a Flanders-Roubaix double and a Tour de France bookended by two stage victories was enhanced further by this fourth world crown, gained in somewhat challenging circumstances.
"My season is already perfect - with the Spring and the Tour and now with this victory today... you can always have ups and downs, nobody's perfect, and even a world champion that wins almost everything in time trialling can also have some bad days. That's human."