Cancellara: Cycling lacks a global vision, it's a mess

Fabian Cancellara has described professional cycling as a mess due to a lack of unity and a global vision for the future, and again challenged Phil Gaimon to a race in response to the American’s suggestions that he may have used mechanical doping during his successful classics and time trial career.

Cancellara made his strong comments during a visit to La Gazzetta dello Sport in Milan. During his long and successful career, the Swiss rider was one of the ‘patrons’ of the peloton and was never afraid to use his status to lead a protest or control the race after a crash or incident.

Despite retiring in 2016, he still ready to speak his mind about the sport the sport that gave him so much.

Cancellara dismisses world champion Peter Sagan as a possible new leader of the peloton, suggesting the problems of the sport are elsewhere.

“With the results he has, Peter could be a leader of the peloton but it’s not his thing. He’s a rockstar, an individualist. If only there were more like him. The problems are elsewhere,” Cancellara told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The foundations are the problem: the UCI, the big organisers, the teams and riders. There’s a lack of unity and a global vision for the future. It’s a bordello [a mess or, literally, a brothel - ed.] The politics of the sport don’t work and so everyone suffers. Everyone just thinks about what they can earn in the short term. Yet cycling, for the emotions it gives people, has enormous potential. Sadly that’s not used in the right way.”

Since retiring after winning a gold medal in the time trial at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Cancellara has been gradually adapting to a life away from professional racing. He raced as a professional for 16 seasons, winning four world time trial titles, two Olympic gold medals, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix three times, Milan-San Remo and a total of 78 races.

Cancellara has begun to study sports management, has kept fit by competing in a triathlon and has launched his Chasing Cancellara series of events. Nine are planned in 2018, kicking off in Mallorca on March 8, with a 48km handicap ride near Manacor, with Cancellara starting last and ‘chasing’ the other entrants. The final event will be held in Lugano on September 22.

Challenging Gaimon

After Gaimon’s book was published in the USA, repeating rumours he had heard about mechanical doping, Cancellara challenged the former Cannondale rider to a race. Cancellara has always denied accusations of mechanical doping. However, new UCI president David Lappartient told Cyclingnews that the UCI would investigate the latest claims. 

Gaimon insisted that the anecdote in the book was taken out of the context, and that he was only trying to break down the sport's main heroes and focus attention on lesser but deserving riders. His book, titled Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While), gives gritty details of his fight to survive as a professional rider.

“He wanted to sell his book and he chose the best month to do it,” Cancellara told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Nothing happens in November and he launched a bomb. I’ve challenged him to go up against me. Let's see how many watts Gaimon has. I’ve still got some good numbers, even if not for very long because I’m not on form. He should come to my races, there are nine to choose from, so we can see how good he is.”

New UCI president David Lappartient is determined to fight mechanical doping, recently suggesting the UCI will spend €500,000 on a new system of five kinds of checks, including tablets, x-rays, thermal cameras and the dismantling bikes to search for hidden motors.

Lappartient has said he wants to end mechanical doping being a ‘hot topic.' Cancellara, however, is not convinced hidden motors have ever been used.

“I don’t think someone has used one because there’s a chance you’d get caught and exposed,” he said.

“I was always strong and my legs are my motor. There’s lot of envy out there and when you win they take aim at you. But I’m happy with what I did [in my career] for the good of cycling.”

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