Fabian Cancellara is back in the world of competitive cycling, joining the Swiss Racing Academy as the Continental team's 'Mentor and Development Advisor'.
The four-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion, who retired from racing in 2016, will use his experience to help the roster of 15 young Swiss riders.
The team boast the tag-line 'Better Cyclists, Better Humans', with the aim of developing their riders not just as prospective professional bike racers but also as people equipped to handle other walks of life.
"I got into this project because Swiss Racing Academy has an eye for both the top and the less talented riders," Cancellara told Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab).
"I was lucky that I could make it, that I could climb to the narrow top of the pyramid, but there are also some who cannot take that step - those who just can't turn their hobby into their profession. Of course, results play an important role, but we think it is equally important to train athletes with the right human values. We want to help those who cannot have a career to make it in the other life."
Cancellara retired in 2016 after winning the Olympic time trial title for a second time, bringing an end to a career that also featured seven Monument victories and eight Tour de France stage wins.
He has remained involved in the sport ever since, working on the product side with BMC, SRAM, and Gore, and also organising mass-participation events. His involvement with the Swiss Cycling Academy sees him return to the world of racing, but he insists the role of mentor is perfect for him, and he didn't consider becoming a team director or coach.
"Just because I don't have those skills. I'm not a data freak, so I'm not a trainer either. I prefer to work on the basics, below. I teach them what I learned at Mapei, Fassa Bortolo, Bjarne Riis and Trek… I was able to go to an extraordinary school and I want to share those things," he said.
"I hope that in the next five years we can create a wave of enthusiasm for cycling in all its facets in this country. Don't forget that the 2024 World Championships will take place in Zurich. I am also part of the Foundation Bicycling, which tries to encourage children to try out BMX. As an ambassador for this sport, I want to get as many people as possible on bikes. The more there are, the happier it makes me."
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