Fabian Cancellara will line up for E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem this weekend but the Swiss powerhouse isn't letting the reality of sponsorship dealings get in the way of racing.
With Saxo Bank set to pull out of the sport at the end of the season and team boss Bjarne Riis searching for a replacement, Cancellara has made it clear that he and is teammates are only focused on racing. Yesterday the team scored a morale-boosting victory when Matti Breschel won Dwars door Vlaanderen. It was a win in which Cancellara played a vital role, setting a hard pace in the finale, before sitting up and challenging the peloton to chase after Breschel.
"Last week in Milan-San Remo I was a bit frustrated. I wasn't really 100 percent in the race or focused. Normally I'd have helped Matti in the sprint but I don't know where I was. I was tired like everyone else but I wasn't in the race. Then we saw the opposite yesterday, that's the real Fabian in racing. And how I raced was a big help for the team and for Matti. That's the direction we want to go in."
This weekend Cancellara will compete in both races although the move of Gent-Wevelgem to a weekend spot as well as changes to the race's profile aren't something he is a fan of.
"Normally on Sunday you don't have a race but honestly for Harelbeke I think it's bad that we have these two races back-to-back. Harelbeke is usually great preparation for Flanders and Wevelgem was fantastic between Flanders and Roubaix, but its new slot is not that good."
As for the continued search for a team sponsor, Cancellara believes that becoming caught up in the news and rumours can only distract the riders from their primary goal of racing and that the search for a sponsor isn't what motivates them to train or race.
"It's important to win and present what the team is all about but we can only race our race and not winning is also part of the game. With our without sponsors we want to win bike races and get as many victories as possible. We're not racing for a sponsor, that's wrong, that just adds pressure. I can't find a sponsor, that's the management; I can only race my bike.
"It's not the best situation but it's hard to find that money with the economy like it is. We lost a sponsor last year but we're still strong. We're going in the right direction, and sponsor, no sponsor, that's not something that's on our shoulders."
Today Cancellara, Breschel and their teammates will ride reconnaissance over 130 kilometres of the Tour of Flanders course. It's a race that Cancellara has already targeted as one of his main goals for the season.
"We will look at all the climbs and it's traditional in this team to train on the parcours. We don't go full gas, just cruise and we'll tackle the climbs together and see what they're like."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.