Fabian Cancellara’s top 11 time trial tips

Olympic Champion Fabian Cancellara has one word to describe amateur time triallists in the UK: “crazy”. All the same, the TT maestro was happy to pass on 11 nuggets of wisdom that any of us can make use of, regardless of ability

Fabian Cancellara on his way to gold at the 2016 Olympic Games. Photo: Graham Watson

(Image credit: Watson)

1 Prepare

“It’s not only the day before the race that’s important, what’s important is the week before. You have to eat carbs and good quality food, be relaxed, be ready for what is coming, whether it’s a long race or a short one.”

2 Head and heart

“In training I have to follow the power numbers, but I also go on feeling. In training you never reach what you want to reach in a race. Even now when my coaches calculate my training plan, they put a few numbers too high because they look at what I reached in races. It’s different to what I reach in training.”

3 Build slowly

“The better my level is, the more I’m excited to do TT training. The first day on a TT bike is horrible, but the second, third, fourth, fifth day are already different because you are used to the position, used to going at another speed. The more you do things, the better you get. Of course if you can ride 55kph for a long time, that’s also nice!”

4 Have a goal

“Somehow training is a pain in the ass. Maybe that’s a bit strong, but the problem with time trialling is that you have to force yourself, and to force yourself for nothing is hard. The main thing is to work towards a main goal and that you are ambitious for something.”

5 Be confident

“When your results come from training, that’s good for your confidence, and confidence is vital. Of course as a pro athlete it’s a bit different — sometimes amateurs are more ambitious than us!”

6 Look after your equipment

“You need good kit. Wheels, bike, helmet, skinsuit… time trialling is not only about performance and power, it’s also about equipment.”

Cancellara's TT machine

7 Find your pace

“Practise for five minutes at a certain wattage or certain heart rate, then have three minutes’ recovery and then go again for five or 10 minutes. It doesn’t need to be always threshold pace, but a pace where you learn to keep it. If you cannot keep the pace, time trialling is even harder.”

8 Stick to it

“I meet a lot of people whose biggest problem is that they cannot ride the pace; they go a bit faster, a bit stronger, and then a bit less. On a hilly parcours they go fast into the climb and then slow because they are tired and then they go fast onto the downhill, and then the flat they don’t know how to go, that’s the problem.”

9 Don’t warm up too much

“I think a lot of riders do too much roller training, too much warm-up; riders are already tired before the start. That’s what I think.”

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10 Pin your number on right

“Lately, mostly, the bus driver or one of the soigneurs pins my number on when I’m on the rollers. The skinsuit is always a mess to get on and you can destroy the number, so I say: ‘First I put my skinsuit on and then when I have it on you can put the number on right.’”

11 Wake up

“The secret is to get awake, take a small shower. [Sometimes] you just want to lie on bed and recover and get the best out of recovery because the best recovery is just sleeping, just doing nothing. But find a bit of rice, a piece of chocolate, some sparkling water, and then the body is more switched on.”

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