Fabian Cancellara may have had to wait over two years for it, but according to the Swiss rider, any delay in being awarded the silver medal from the 2008 Olympic Games road race was worth it.
The Classics and time trial specialist was awarded the medal at a ceremony in his home town last week. Switzerland's Olympic president Jörg Schild presented Cancellara with the same silver medal originally awarded to David Rebellin, which the Italian was forced to return after testing positive for CERA EPO.
"There’s a lot of emotion but nothing has changed too much,” Cancellara told Cyclingnews.
"I was still on the podium that day so it’s nothing compared to how Alexandr Kolobnev must feel.”
The Russian moved from fourth to third but unlike Cancellara, missed out on the podium celebrations in Beijing.
"He missed out on the podium that day and he has no pictures from it. But the road race was like a gold medal for me because I was so happy. In the end the truth has won and that’s maybe the most important thing. I have gold and a silver now and that’s great for me and for Switzerland.”
Cancellara was the guest at a local event when the medal was awarded. The organisers built him a podium with a third and second place roster, allowing him to step onto the second step to receive the medal
"It’s the original medal that was given to Rebellin. It has some marks on it so I can tell it was his. It’s not new so it’s the one he handed back. It’s better to have the old one than a new one, as a new one just wouldn’t have been the same because this was the exact medal from the ceremony.”
Cancellara will now take the most of some time at home with his family before travelling to Luxembourg for his new team’s presentation. It marks the fourth squad in the 29-year-old's career, having ridden for Mapei, Fassa Bortolo and various names associated under Riis Cycling.
"We have the team presentation and then the training camp with the team. I don’t want to go away until then as I’ll be away a lot when then season starts but I’m really motivated about the new team. It feels like I’m going back to my roots,” he told Cyclingnews.
Cancellara’s move from Saxo Bank to the new Luxembourg team was one of the most protracted sagas of the season. He abandoned the Vuelta under a cloud but bounced back to win his fourth Worlds title, all without naming his future team. Finally, in November it was announced that he had signed to the Schleck team, breaking the final year of his contract with Riis.
“When I look back and it’s not something I normally do, I like to look forward, and there was a positive and negative side to the whole thing. I think I’ve done the right thing in moving because there were a lot of changes at Saxo Bank and for me it wasn’t the same. I wanted to find something new and I think I’ve found it. It’s already going really well with young riders and young management.”
Luxembourg wasn’t the only option Cancellara had to consider. Speculation was rife that BMC, Sky and even Pegasus were interested in his signature, with BMC rumoured to be willing to name a bike model after him in order to sweeten the deal.
Cancellara would not confirm any of the other parties involved but did add that the decision was not an easy one to make.
“There were offers and options but at the end I was trying to find the best for me. The best solution is not the most money. Money is important but it’s not what makes me happy but I want my cycling to career to carry on and it’s more important to be in a group where I think I can progress. When you change everything it can be hard to get things going but so many things are similar on the new team for me.”