Fabian Cancellara is on the hunt for a missing trophy in his case, the World Championship road title. The 33-year-old Swiss rider has dominated the cobbled classics and time trialled to four world titles and an Olympic title, but lacks a rainbow jersey in the road race. He hopes to change that on Sunday.
“I wouldn’t give up any of my other wins for this road race title, but of course, I want to win the Worlds,” Cancellara said. “It’s something missing in my palmarès.”
Cancellara time trialled to the gold medal in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010. In the 2008 Beijing Games, he won the Olympic time trial title. He soloed to a Milan-San Remo victory in 2008, and took cobbled classics Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix three times each.
After the spring classics this year and the Tour de France, he switched his focus to the road Worlds. He wants the title so much that he gave up on going after another time trial title – where last year he took bronze – to solely focus on the 254.8-kilometre race on Sunday.
“I skipped the time trial because I wanted to focus 100 per cent on Sunday’s race,” he added. “Given this parcours, it is better for me that I recover after racing the team time trial on Sunday because the time trial day [on Wednesday] is an intense effort.
“Thankfully, I already have four titles so it’s easier for me to skip the time trial and give it all for the road race. We’ve followed the plan since the beginning of the year, and I feel ready for it now.”
For the win, Cancellara faces 14 circuits of 18.2 kilometres. Each one ascends the Confederacion and Mirador climbs to create a course of 4284 climbing metres. The last climb leaves just over four kilometres to race to the line.
“It depends on the race goes. How the big teams are riding. They have to make the race hard,” Cancellara said. “There is a quite strange Italian team, with a lot of new names, making their first Worlds. All the big teams have a strong team, with a strong sprinter, but we will see because each lap will get harder and harder. It’s always up or down, so it’s going to be an interesting race. It’s only 250 kilometres, but there is a lot of climbing.”
Cancellara will have to take on favourites like German John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Australian Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge). He will also have to overcome one of his weakness, his own team. Switzerland only qualified to race with three riders.
“We have to ride smart and we have to use the others from teams with nine riders. It’s not negative racing, but just racing intelligently if I want to win this missing title.”