Fabian Cancellara still dreams of competing for the overall at the Tour de France but admitted that it would remain a dream, rather than a goal for the foreseeable future. The World and Olympic time trial champion was touted as a potential dark horse before the 2009 Tour de France after winning the Tour de Suisse, but crumbled in the mountains in July and reverted to the role of super-domestique for Andy and Fränk Schleck.
Speaking at the Saxo Bank team camp in Fuerteventura, Cancellara said that while he didn’t buy into the media hype that surrounded him in the build up to last year’s Tour, he still dreams of one day competing for the yellow jersey in Paris.
"I didn’t buy into that talk in the media. The Tour is a dream and a dream is not a goal. Goals are one day races, time trials and the Worlds, but not the Tour. Dreaming is important, but come on, I dream of owning an island, of having a big house; sometimes dreams are never reality. Maybe one day the dream will be different and goals will change. But for now I want to reach my goals. Maybe once all my current goals are in my pocket maybe then I can convert that dream to a goal," he told Cyclingnews.
The idea of Tour glory has obviously occupied the Swiss rider’s mind, though, and he knows exactly what he needs to do if he’s to compete against the likes of Alberto Contador and possibly even Saxo Bank teammate Andy Schleck.
"It’s not just about losing weight, but that’s a big thing. I can do one day of climbing, the second is tough but the third is too much for me at the moment. Whether you can push 500 watts or 600 watts doesn’t matter. It’s down to watts per kilo. I’m not ready yet for that," he said.
Cancellara came into the 2009 Tour with fantastic form, winning his home Tour in dominant fashion after a disastrous Classics campaign that was blighted by injury, sickness and bad luck. However, he bounced back, winning two stages on his way to overall victory in the Tour of Suisse.
"I came into the Tour de Suisse looking for stage wins but Bjarne told me to be focussed and don’t give any time away, take things day-by-day and see how far I could go. It’s the fourth biggest stage race in the world and to win it, well it was amazing and I’m not a real climber. I was lucky that Bjarne and guys like Fränk and Andy were there to help me."
Despite missing out in the Classics, he was voted the rider of the year by Cyclingnews readers. He was honoured to claim the award, after beating off Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish and Lance Armstrong to claim the prize.
"To start the year with an award from the biggest cycling site is huge. I didn’t win anything for my achievements last year maybe the season was even better than in 2008. Apart from what happened in the Spring I think I had a fantastic season and to win something from the readers make me really proud."
"I was chasing form at the Classics and spent four weeks off the bike, while my rivals had been racing and training like hell. I was wearing the number one dossard in Tirreno and I was the first rider to get dropped and finished the stages on my own. It was a difficult time, but you need to get over that. A champion needs to suffer and take his defeats with grace."
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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.