LUXEMBOURG (VN) – At least Fabian Cancellara can now laugh about one of the most preposterous “scandals” of the 2010 season.
Last year, Cancellara found himself at the center of a media storm after it was alleged that he used a battery-operated motor mounted inside his bicycle frame during his awe-inspiring run through the northern classics.
On Thursday, he joked about the story as the Olympic time trial champion looked ahead to the much more serious business of defending his titles at Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix as a member of the new Leopard-Trek team.
“I am looking now for a bike that has a hybrid engine,” Cancellara joked to VeloNews. “It’s better for the environment, because a battery is not good.”
Last year, the “motor-doping” story went viral, inspired in large part by a video posted on YouTube, now up to nearly 3 million views. Cancellara first scoffed at and then vigorously denied the story, but it was taken seriously enough that the UCI went to the extraordinary measure of X-raying frames using technology similar to that used in airport security.
Cancellara said he didn’t let the story ruin his otherwise incredible performance during the spring classics, capped by becoming just the 10th rider in cycling history to win Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year.
“In one way it was funny, in another way it was sad, but in another way, it was a compliment. I tried to take the best out of it,” he continued. “I looked at it as a compliment because when they say he rides like he has an engine, that means my legs, my strength, my body is strong, and I will continue with that. It is my business card, and it’s what I’ve shown the past few years.”
The spring classics will remain Cancellara’s first major goal of the season, and unless he pulls off the unprecedented double-double of winning back-to-back Flanders-Roubaix, the goal is winning at least one of the cobblestone classics.
That means that Cancellara will postpone his assault on the hillier classics that fill out cycling’s five “monuments.” He’s already won three — Milan-San Remo, Flanders and Roubaix — and he hopes one day to complete the sweep by adding Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia to his resume.
With pressure on to win for his new Leopard-Trek team, however, Cancellara admitted there’s a big difference from smashing the pavé to going head to head against the climbers up La Redoute. And he said now is not the time to undergo the necessary changes he would need to transform his body to be able to seriously contend for victory on the climber-friendly Liège and Lombardia courses.
“With the way I won last year, it’s almost impossible not to race them. I am going to stick with what I know for right now,” he explained. “When I am ready to go for the other races, I will have to change training programs, change my set-ups, change my schedule because I will need to switch those classics around. With the success I had last year, I am not ready to go for that now.”
Cancellara did confirm that he will likely race the Amstel Gold Race before reloading for the Tour de France and then the world championships in Denmark. He will debut at the tours of Qatar and Oman, then race at Bianche Strade, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo ahead of the northern classics.
Cancellara will be racing his 10th professional season in 2011 and has some unfinished business, especially with the world road title. He’s won the world time trial title now four times, but he desperately wants a shot at the rainbow jersey on the road.
“For those other monuments, I still have some time in the future,” he said. “A perfect season? Win one of those classics, win the Tour with one of the brothers, and win the world title on the road. This is my anniversary of my 10th season as a professional. So I want to make it special this year. It sounds always nice to win something big in your 10th season.”