Fabian Cancellara has signed off on his professional cycling career with victory against Sir Bradley Wiggins in his last ever race, to the delight of 6,200 people who packed into Ghent’s 't Kuipke velodrome.
There was never going to be any other result on an emotional evening that saw Cancellara beat Pippo Pozzato – the pair began their careers together at Mapei-Quick Step – in the semi-final of a 2km individual pursuit contest before seeing off Wiggins.
— Ayrton lambrechts (@ayrtonlambrecht) November 13, 2016
Cancellara said it was “unbelievable that so many people turned up for the retirement of a Swiss rider,” adding, “this could only happen in cycling-mad Belgium.”
The 35-year-old is hugely popular in Belgium partly because of his prowess over the cobbles – he’s a three-time winner of the Tour of Flanders and has the same number of victories in Paris-Roubaix across the French border – and because of his style of riding.
He also took his first Tour de France yellow jersey in Belgium after winning the Prologue in Liege in 2004.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) November 12, 2016
Last night was a happier experience for the Swiss rider than the last time we saw him in a velodrome – he had a rather embarrassing fall as he took a farewell lap of the track in Roubaix in April.
While Cancellara has ridden his last race, Wiggins has a busy week ahead – he’s staying in Ghent, the city of his birth, to partner Mark Cavendish in the Six Day meet that starts on Tuesday and which may (or may not) be the final event of his career.
Perhaps the most bizarre tribute is this one from the organisers of the E3 Harelbeke race, an event Cancellara won three times, with a caption that roughly translates as “the race is holy, Fabian is sacred.”
— E3 Harelbeke (@E3Harelbeke) November 13, 2016
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.