Trek Factory Racing’s cobbles hardman Fabian Cancellara won’t be on the start line when the Tour de France resumes in Besançon tomorrow. The rider known as Spartacus is taking a rest before starting his preparation for the world championships in Ponferrada, Spain September 21-28 — and maybe something even bigger.
In a team startement, Cancellara said: “I will travel home now and take a little break. The season has been long for me, starting back in Dubai. I have done 59 days of competition this season so far and I have another big goal at the end of this season: the World Championships. It’s not a secret that I’d like to be in my best shape there, so it’s important that I take some rest.”
The pavé of stage five of the Tour was expected to be Cancellara’s focus in this year’s race, but things didn’t quite go to plan. He managed a creditable fifth place on the chaotic, crash-marred stage, but more was hoped for from the three-time Paris-Roubaix winner, and it sounds like he hoped for more too.
Cancellara said: “It was not only about the cobblestones stage for me. The course for this year’s Tour is very attractive for a rider of my profile, I liked it. There were many opportunities and with a little more luck, I could have gone home with a result in the pocket. It’s been good to be back in the Tour. We lost Andy (Schleck) and Danny (Van Poppel) early on, but the team is strong and will keep on looking for opportunities.”
Trek Factory Racing team manager Luca Guercilena: “We brought Fabian to the Tour to be a factor where his skills allowed it and he didn’t disappoint. He’s a rider that always comes to a race to give everything - if you just look at how he was working for Fränk (Schleck) yesterday at 20 km from the finish in a mountain stage. Now he gets a short break and then we will build up his condition again to be at his best in Ponferrada.”
The Hour Record?
Cancellara may have another target immediately after going for his fifth time trial world championship on September 25. He put plans for an attampt on the Hour Record on ice when the UCI changed the equipment rules in May, to allow Trek to come up with a bike that met the new criteria.
Now Guercilena says the bike is ready, and Cancellara and the team just have to set a date.
“It could be after the worlds this year, after a peak in form,” Guercilena told Gregor Brown of Cycling Weekly. “You can’t wait when you’re ready. A road cyclist has to take advantage of the racing season to do it.”
He added: “We don’t have a precise date, but the new equipment is ready. Fabian’s career has been great already and as a fan, not the general manager, it’d only be right for cycling that Fabian creates a new era in Hour Record attempts.”
As for the bike Cancellara will use, sources at Trek are tight-lipped.
“It will likely be based on a Speed Concept,” Trek UK media maven Chris Garrison told us, confirming our speculation that the only way Trek could have got a bike ready so quickly was to start with an existing platform.
However, Garrison believes it won’t be quite as simple as bonding a set of track ends into a Speed Concept.
“I think that's the foundation, because that is already a slippery bike,” she said. “There will probably be some other wizardry on it, but it's all under wraps at the mo.”
If Cancellara does make an attempt on the Hour Record this year, it looks likely he will be the first of three of cycling’s biggest stars to take a crack at it. Unless of course he hits it so far out of the that Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin decide not to bother.
Wiggins told Italian sport newspaper La Gazzetta over the weekend that he was considering the Hour Record, and expected to be on a Pinarello bike, though subsequent reports indicated he has not yet confirmed a spot with Team Sky beyond this year.
Omega Pharma - Quick Step development manager Rolf Aldag has hinted that Tony Martin is also considering a tilt at the Hour.
“Now that they’ve changed the rules it makes it more interesting, it gets more technical,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“It gets more interesting for our partners, but you have to do it right, you can’t just expect to just jump on the bike and say, hey, I’m doing the Hour Record. It has to be a project, that project has to run more than a year. So if he wants to do it in 2015, then we should think about it soon.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.