Road

Cancellara upbeat ahead of final season: ‘All is going well’

The 34-year-old Swiss star says he's looking forward to Christmas, and then his final year of professional road racing.

MILAN (VN) — Fabian Cancellara is ramping up his training this month ahead of a Trek Factory Racing meeting and 2016, the final chapter of his successful cycling career. The Swiss classics star sent out an audio message to say that “everything is going in the right direction.”

Cancellara’s season was a roller coaster ride, with wins and the Tour de France yellow jersey alongside crashes and sickness.

“I’m happy, I’m healthy and I’m looking forward to everything that is going on, all the news and all the good things,” Cancellara said in a Trek press release.

“All is going well. I’ve had a busy week of training. We’ve had good weather and so there’s been time to do good training hours before heading to the team training camp next week. Everything is in good hands, and everything is going in the right direction.”

If everything goes to plan, the 34-year-old Cancellara could become the first rider to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) four times next season. Or he could add another Milano-Sanremo or Paris-Roubaix title to his palmarès.

Cancellara won an uphill stage sprint in the Tour of Oman, time trialed to victory in the Tirreno-Adriatico’s final stage, and wore the Tour’s yellow jersey for one day this year.

With the highs came lows. A crash early in E3 Harelbeke, which resulted in two fractured vertebrae, derailed his classics campaign, and another fall in the Tour ended his yellow jersey ride early and forced him to abandon. He returned to the Vuelta a España before a stomach flu sent him home in the first week and effectively ended his season even if he raced the Japan Cup.

He now faces one last season, after announcing this year he will retire in 2016. The idea is to sure up the palmarès of one of modern cycling’s greats. Cancellara counts a record four world time trial titles, 29 days in the yellow jersey, and seven victories in the monuments.

This week, Cancellara will meet with the American-registered team for a pre-season training camp in Spain. The team includes Americans Kiel Reijnen and Peter Stetina, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, and international stars Fränk Schleck, Bauke Mollema, and Giacomo Nizzolo.

“I’m looking forward to the team camp and I’m looking forward to this month of December. There is two important things: meeting up with the team but also, what I’m really looking forward to, is Christmas time, a time to relax. When possible even if I’m always busy with lots of things … Two kids, two cats, the wife,” added Cancellara.

“Performance-wise, I’m in a good way. Even now with the good news of having the relationship again back with the Mapei center in Italy, my career started with them in 2000. I’m really excited having them back on board with team Trek Factory Racing.”

Cancellara’s classics preparation will take an unusual path because for the first time in seven years, he will not race the Tour of Qatar or the Tour of Oman. Trek decided not to race in the wake of hiccups during the Middle East races this year.

“We can still have an alternative calendar leading up to the classics,” Trek general manager Luca Guercilena told VeloNews. “We will plan [at the team camp] which path we will take.”

Cancellara could race in the Dubai Tour, Volta ao Algarve, or the Ruta del Sol stage races instead in February as he tunes up for his final season.