Spartacus seeks new challenges

Fabian Cancellara is seeking new challenges.

Cancellara en route
Photo: AFP

For a rider as prodigious as Fabian Cancellara, it’s going to be harder and harder to find new goals to aim for, races he hasn’t won yet.

The Olympic time trial champion has won classics, worn yellow jerseys and triumphed in his national race at the Tour de Suisse, and he came within a few pedal strokes of winning the elusive rainbow jersey on the road.

Like most of his colleagues, he’s now on R&R after another long and successful season. What’s sure is that Cancellara wants to find new challenges for the 2010 season.

“It is too early to tell which races I will be focusing on in the coming season but I am very motivated to do well in the spring classics where I would like to get a rematch but I will talk with Bjarne Riis on the further details,” Cancellara said on Saxo Bank’s web page. “For me it is important to have objectives as focal points throughout the season which can keep me going.”

Cancellara reflected on another big season in 2009, which included winning the prologues at both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, his third time trial rainbow jersey and the breakthrough Tour de Suisse title.

Winning comes in droves for “Spartacus,” so picking his favorite victory of any year is no easy feat.

“It is really difficult to point out the biggest victory this year. It is easier to identify the most significant achievements that have had the greatest personal impact on me. For me it’s not just about the victory. It matters how I win,” he said.

“The (world) time trial in front of my home audience was a unique moment that I will never forget. It was specifically memorable to feel the atmosphere and the encouragement from my fans and it gives me the motivation and ability to make the body burn inside when it truly has to hurt in order to have a slight chance of winning.”

Cancellara is the man to beat in the race against the clock — so much so that many of the world’s best time trialists skipped the world’s race in Mendrisio. It seemed everyone knew the race would be for second.

Cancellara, however, admits he feels the pressure in time trialing, when all eyes are on him.

“There is always plenty of pressure when I am doing a time trial. Everyone expects me to win every time and it’s this kind of mental pressure that I have to deal with. I have my own expectations, though, and they are much more important,” he said.

“I am not letting other people’s expectations get on my nerves. Instead, I am being motivated by them, and I, just like everyone else, need support from colleagues, fans and friends in order to achieve my goals. The support is like gasoline in my engine.”