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Having suggested in the past that he is likely to retire after the end of the 2016 season, Fabian Cancellara has once again stated that his career is inching towards a conclusion.
Speaking to Sporza, the Swiss Trek Factory Racing rider said that he can feel his age on the bike but does what he can to retain an edge on his younger rivals.
“You try to somehow turn back time. I now enjoy it much more. As much as 100 times more than three years ago,” he said, referring to the sport. “I have more fun, but I feel even more that I have an appointment with history.
“With age, I pay more and more attention to the details. That is an advantage I have on the younger riders, who have less regard for it.”
His Trek Factory Racing team has confirmed to CyclingTips today that he does indeed plan to retire at the end of next season, giving him two more years to add to his haul of victories.
Cancellara has had a standout career, winning some of the top one day events and also some shorter stage races. His list of triumphs includes three editions of Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders and the E3 Harelbeke, one Milan-Sanremo and four editions of the world time trial championships.
He also clocked up eight stages in the Tour de France and three in the Vuelta a España. His stage race triumphs include Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de Suisse, the Tour of Denmark and the Tour of Oman.
In a long interview earlier this year, he said that he was determined to both ‘kick ass, and enjoy’ his 2015 season. He made clear he had high expectations and was aiming to step things up in relation to what he had achieved last year.
“I am not happy with my 2014 season…I won Flanders, but it was not enough. I said that many times and I will always repeat it, because it is the truth,” he stated frankly.
He repeated this in speaking to Sporza, saying that the Flanders win was a relief but that he was otherwise not satisfied with his spring.
Cancellara has worked hard over the winter, though, and believes that he is on course for a better display this time around. His second place on Tuesday’s time trial stage of the Tour of Qatar will give him encouragement, although of course he would have preferred to have beaten Niki Terpstra and clocked up his first win of the year.
Still, his form is clearly on the rise and he has several more weeks to be in prime condition.
The 33 year old is clear on which of the younger riders are likely to be the biggest threats, naming Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) as concerns.
Still, he has a strong team behind him and knows that he will have good riders backing up his own Classics campaign.
One of those likely to be riding shotgun is the young Belgian Jasper Stuyven, who is also part of Trek Factory Racing. Asked if he could go on to be the new Cancellara, the Swiss rider made clear that he didn’t feel such comparisons were valid.
“I believe in him and will try to bring him to the top. He is in the right team,” he said, referring to the 22 year old.
“But the next Cancellara? He will not be. I’m the only one. I hope he can make a name for himself, and I can stop with peace of mind knowing that he can take over.”