Road

Cancellara’s spiritual moment key with Sanremo and classics looming

Fabian Cancellara heads into the major spring classics with a clear head and a mentality that's keenly focused on every minute detail

SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (VN) — Fabian Cancellara blasted his way to a time trial win in Tirreno-Adriatico five days before the first monument of the season, Milano-Sanremo. After a winter’s divine revelation, when he said he felt like crossing through Moses’ parted waters, anything is possible with the monuments on the horizon.

“It all came to me this winter,” explained Cancellara Monday evening.

“I had seven weeks at home, riding in good weather. I thought a lot about every detail. That could be the key for this 2015 season.”

The Swiss power-man of team Trek Factory Racing described a holy situation in the countryside this off-season where he felt as though he was rising above the floods in Noah’s Ark or crossing through the Red Sea’s parted waters. Cancellara explained that he began 2015 as a new man.

His story is supported by today’s time trial stage win to close the Italian stage race, four seconds ahead of Adriano Malori (Movistar), the uphill sprint win in the Tour of Oman, and a fifth place in Tirreno-Adriatico’s Arezzo stage behind Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing). Though 33 years old, Cancellara appears to have the hunger and energy of a cyclist eight years younger.

“How do I do it? I try not to think so much, just go,” he said.

“When you get older, you wait and look before making your move. The new riders have less to think about, I have to deal with a lot of other things, but now I’m used to that.

“It’s also that now we are in the second year of the Trek team, and things are working easier in the team now. Peter Sagan, for example, will be more relaxed next year when he knows the team’s system and feels more comfortable in the team.”

He won seven stages in the Tour de France and four time trial world titles, but his 2015 season is centered again on the northern cobbled classics from late March through mid-April.

Circled in red in his agenda are the one-day races E3 Harelbeke, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and Paris-Roubaix. He already won the Ronde and Roubaix three times each. First, however, he has one important appointment on Sunday, Italy’s Milano-Sanremo monument.

He attacked three kilometres out and won solo along the Ligurian seaside in the country’s northwest in 2008. Barring 2009 and 2010, every year since he placed second or third in Sanremo.

“I wouldn’t like if I couldn’t continue my streak of being on the podium,” Cancellara said.

“Would it make my season a success if I won? Of course, it’s one of five monuments, no one would say no to it.”

The images of Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, and Erik Zabel winning stick in Cancellara’s head, and of course, the first time that he lined up with CSC teammate Andrea Peron at his side in 2006.

“I’ve never did recon for Milano-Sanremo. The first time I raced it, that was the first time I rode the Cipressa and Poggio. I saw Mark Cavendish and other riders going there already this year, but I’ve never reconned it,” Cancellara said.

“Do I like it? I wouldn’t say ‘like’ because from Milano to the Turchino, it’s just rolling and rolling. I just look towards the final 50 kilometers, the first 250 kilometers are ignored, the only thing that matters is saving your energy for the final 50.”

He reflected on those seven weeks riding at home, a time when he said he thought about the changes in the team with the arrival Bauke Mollema — who placed second overall in Tirreno-Adriatico — and the final two years in his career.

“I have to feel ready to suffer, you have to be ready for that, but that’s no secret,” Cancellara explained.

“These are also my last years. I have to flip the pages in the book and try to enjoy myself.”