Spartacus enters the Arena

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

His Fassa Bortolo teammates have nicknamed Fabian Cancellera "Spartaco" after the Roman gladiator, perhaps because the 24 year-old from Berne, Switzerland somewhat resembles actor Kirk Douglas, who starred in the 1960 film. Or perhaps because Cancellera is becoming a two-wheeled warrior to be reckoned with. Also known as Cance, the big (81kg, 186 cm) had a solid 4th place in last year's Paris-Roubaix and then had the ride of his life last July in Liège to win the first Maillot Jaune with a victory at the Tour De France prologue. So far in 2005, Cancellera has two wins: ; a superb victory at Paris-Nice, where he took the race leadership for a day, and winning the the final time trial stage of the Setmana Catalana on Friday.

For his 21st pro win, Cance blasted the 15.9 km Setmana TT course in 19'29 at the average speed of 48.96 km/h. After his win, the burly Bernese is happy with his progress with the Belgian classics starting next week. "This (TT) win has given me more confidence than ever with the northern classics starting," he said. "On Monday, I'm heading to Belgium for the Three Days of de Panne. In April, I have three major objectives: Tour of Flanders (April 3), Gent-Wevelgem (April 6) and Paris-Roubaix (April 10). And I'm racing to win in all three races, because you never know what can happen at Paris-Roubaix."

Although Cancellera was last man in the sprint last year on the Roubaix Velodrome, the Swiss rider is hoping to be there again this year. "Since I was a junior rider, I've always raced on the track and cyclocross. I've done a lot of cross and when I was 16, I rode a (track) kilometer in 1'07". Now with these big races in in Belgium, I'm more motivated than ever." With his power, talent and time trialing skills, if Cancellera makes the right move in Belgium, his 22nd career win may be his biggest ever.

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