Strade Bianche dedicates white road sector to Cancellara

The organisers of Strade Bianche honored Fabian Cancellara on Friday by dedicating a sector of the race's famous white roads to the now-retired three-time race champion.

The milestone for the Monte Sante Marie section in Asciano, the eighth of 11 total gravel sectors in the race, now bears the Swiss rider's name. Cancellara won the event in 2008 with CSC, again in 2012 with RadioShack-Nissan and finally in 2016 for Trek-Segafredo.

"There's a bridge named after me in Berne, but this is special," Cancellara said of the dedication. "It's recognition of what I achieved in the Strade Bianche race, by winning it three times. Strade Bianche is a relatively young race but it’s already really special and very much loved by the riders. I love it too.

"It's a special race for the route and the Strade Bianche but also because it suits Classics riders, it suits the Ardennes riders and even the Grand Tour riders have a chance, all in one race on one day. That makes it pretty unique."

Having called it a career after winning the Olympic gold medal in the individual time trial last year, the 35-year-old is now enjoying his retirement, leaving Saturday's 11th edition of Strade Bianche open for the taking. Cancellara tipped Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan and BMC Racing's Greg Van Avermaet as his top favorites, and mentioned Quick-Step's Zdenek Stybar and Trek-Segafredo's Fabio Felline as other riders to watch.

He also noted that he's managing to stay busy despite leaving racing behind.

"I'm a retired rider, I'm no longer a rider. I've put on weight and I'm enjoying life despite being really busy," he said. "I feel retired when I watch races on television now; my heart jumps a little but that's normal I think. When the race ends I calm down quickly and get on with my life.

"I know that racing is part of my past and an important part, but I'm thinking of the future. I don't want to be Fabian Cancellara: the Classics and time trial winner. I don't want to live off my palmares. I want more out of life than that. I'm working on a lot of different projects in cycling and triathlon, and even studying for my future."

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