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The world championships may have been one of his biggest goals of the season but a spate of bad luck this year and low morale have prompted Fabian Cancellara to thrown the towel in on 2015 and to instead take a break and plan towards 2016.
“Physically I could probably go on and race the World Championships. But it’s the mind that controls the body, and I don’t have the will to go through the whole come-back thing once more after the rollercoaster that this season has been,” he said on Thursday.
“It’s a matter of focus. Dealing with a serious injury during the course of one season is not easy, and I have had to do it twice already this year.”
The Swiss Trek Factory Racing rider crashed during the E3 Prijs Harelbeke this Spring, fracturing his spine. He missed the big Classics as a result and refocused on the Tour de France.
That race initially worked out well for him and he took the yellow jersey after stage three. However he crashed on the following day and again fractured his spine, resulting in his withdrawal.
Having gone back to the drawing board twice, he set his sights on recovering and then riding the Vuelta a España prior to the worlds.
That too didn’t pan out; he came into the race having suffered from a fever and then a stomach problem, and again was forced to pull out.
“It’s mentally very challenging and it drains your energy. I don’t have batteries anymore for a third come-back in one season,” he admitted.
“Since I returned home from the Vuelta I have been questioning myself a lot. It’s more than just a lack of motivation. It goes deeper than that. It feels impossible to load the batteries enough to break through that wall in your head.”
He thanked his team and the Trek bicycle company, saying that they were very supportive of him. They proposed alternative routes to the worlds but all finally decided that ending the season early was the best option.
“I’m sad not to be racing the Worlds, of course. The TTT is an important race for our team and everybody knows how much I love racing for Switzerland. I’m sorry for the TFR boys. They did a great job yesterday in Alberta and it’s always a great experience to do a TTT at this level.
“I also feel sad for the Swiss team. Each year is always a lot of fun to be a team for one occasion, I love that. The Worlds next year don’t suit me very well, I’m not a sprinter. This could have been my last chance, but then again, the way this season is going for me, not really.”
Cancellara has taken four world time trial titles but has made clear that winning the road race is one of the top goals he would like to achieve prior to retiring from the sport.
He has already said that 2016 will be his last season. Going out on a high is important to him and so he will take a break now and then start working hard.
“I want to thank Luca (Guercilena), Trek’s senior management in the US, the team at Swiss Cycling and also my family for all the support,” he said.
“As an athlete you can feel very much alone when bad luck strikes, but I am very happy to have all these people supporting me year round.”