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‘All or nothing’ for Cancellara in swansong Roubaix

"It’s all or nothing, all for today, because there is no tomorrow. I think that is helping him in the race," says Trek – Segafredo GM Luca Guercilena.

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GHENT, Belgium (VN) — Fabian Cancellara will have his game face on Sunday for an attempt at a record-tying fourth Paris-Roubaix trophy in his final gallop across the cobbles.

Behind the scenes, however, the Trek – Segafredo superstar has been soaking it all in the past few weeks in his final spring classics campaign. The Swiss superstar has been meeting with fans, chatting to staffers, and celebrating the races that are so central to his reputation and success.

“When we did the last training before Flanders, he came to me and said, ‘Man, that is the last time. It all started for us in 1999 or 2000,'” Trek—Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena told VeloNews.

“It’s funny, because it’s not the fans approaching Fabian, but it’s him who is going up to the fans,” Guercilena continued. “Fabian is reaching out, and thanking them for supporting him all these years. That is Fabian. He is really loving the Belgian fans, and now he would like to thank them for all they have done for him.”

Cancellara as a cobblestone classics protagonist will melt into the history book Sunday at the velodrome in Roubaix. More challenges lie ahead this season for Cancellara, including the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, but Guercilena said Cancellara is determined to race to win Sunday.

“He’s not nostalgic. It’s more of a positive emotion,” he said. “He wants to enjoy the atmosphere, the fans, the race, and that is helping him to perform even better. It’s all or nothing, all for today, because there is no tomorrow. I think that is helping him in the race.”

Flanders was a ‘split-second decision’
And what about Flanders? Guercilena admitted Cancellara missed a chance to win when he did not follow the race-breaking move with eventual winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) ahead of Oude Kwaremont last weekend.

“He has no regrets, but he has the kind of disappointment that comes with missing the opportunity to make the outcome different,” Guercilena said. “You can say if this or if that, but you know the race would have been very different had Fabian arrived together with Sagan to the Kwaremont. When you arrive at that key point of the race with a gap of 25 seconds with riders who are as strong as you, that’s a disappointment.”

What happened? Guercilena said Trek teammate Stijn Devolder was gesturing to Cancellara to follow when the peloton saw Sagan, Kwiatkowski, and then Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) power away. Cancellara made a split-second calculation, and the wrong choice might have cost him a chance to make history.

“It was a one-second decision,” he said. “Stijn Devolder was telling him to go now! Fabian was hesitating, thinking that someone else would go, but that was the mistake. If it was 10-15 seconds at the bottom of the Kwaremont, it was possible, but 25 seconds was too much for a 500-meter climb.”

‘Maybe Fabian can be the lucky one’
In a press conference Friday, Cancellara expressed his confidence he is in top shape to race to win Sunday at Roubaix. He’s clearly been one of the top riders throughout the 2016 spring classics, but a victory has so far eluded him. Guercilena, who has coached and worked with Cancellara throughout his pro career as well as the Swiss national team, said that is also fueling his ambition even more for Sunday’s big clash.

“Fabian has the condition to win Roubaix,” he said. “It will be another big fight. The most important thing at Roubaix is to be ready in your mind. Not having won so far in his last season, that will be something extra inside him to push even harder.

“Every year is different at Roubaix. The race is impossible to predict,” he said. “It is going to be very competitive for Roubaix. What happened in Flanders, that showed the riders who are ready, but the races are completely different. Luck is a bigger factor at Roubaix. There is a bigger group of possible winners. Maybe Fabian can be the lucky and strong one, one more time.”