The 2016 season will not be a victory lap for Fabian Cancellara, says his Trek Factory Racing directeur sportif, Dirk Demol. Cancellara confirmed earlier this week that next season would be his last as a professional rider.
According to Demol, the Swiss will look to end his career on a high. "He's a proud rider and wants to say goodbye in style. He will be only 35 and wants to go [to the Classics] again in earnest," Demol told Sporza, going on to deny that Cancellara would call it quits following his Classics campaign if he won one of the monuments.
"It has not been mentioned that he would stop immediately if he wins. He wants to go out there for a full year."
Cancellara's palmarès is rich with seven monument victories – including two Flanders-Roubaix doubles – four world time trial championships, an Olympic title and eight Tour de France stages. His much-desired world road race title looks beyond his reach, however, with the Qatar course suiting the sprinters.
Demol denies that this year's challenging season was behind Cancellara's decision to retire. Cancellara's 2015 season was one that tested his resolve to the maximum after a crash at E3 Harelbeke resulted in two fractured vertebrae. He fought his way back only to suffer an almost identical injury at the Tour de France while in the yellow jersey. Cancellara duly battled to return for the Vuelta a Espana only to be sidelined once again, this time by illness.
Demol says, however, that the decision to retire came much earlier. "The decision to quit next year was already taken," said Demol. "From the moment the Trek Factory Racing team was launched, he signed a contract for three years, and it was clear that it would be his last contract. He has stuck to that.
"He has put the bad luck this year behind him but 2016 was always going to be his last year."
A decision on the complexion of Cancellara's final race calendar will look like has not been made but the two central focusses are likely to be the Classics and the Tour de France. "The Olympic road race is too heavy, but the Tour goes near to Bern, where he lives so you hear me now say that he will surely ride the Tour," explained Demol.
"Right now is not yet clear what will be his last race. He is already focused on the spring, but the rest will become clear."