Fabian Cancellara said he’s “ready for everything and not scared” ahead of his final Tour of Flanders this Sunday and that he goes into the race in 100 per cent form, as he chases a history making fourth win in the Monument.
The 35-year-old is set to retire at the end of this season, and would become Flanders’s most decorated winner ever if he were to win this weekend. However, he admitted he’s in the best form he could be ahead of his final appearance in the race.
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“I will race for winning not for second or third,” Cancellara said. “I come here 100 per cent that is no secret. Now it’s the race that decides.”
The Trek-Segafredo rider continued: “We have some tactics, we can also change tactics. I want this race; we want to win as a team. We will play our game like other [teams] because I know I will be targeted, but maybe we will have other targets as well. I’m ready for everything, I’m not scared.”
Cancellara missed last year’s Flanders with injury, but admitted he’s feeling no pressure despite knowing this year is the last chance he will have to win.
“I have my freedom, that’s the nice thing. There is some energy left to still go on like this and enjoy my last season and this is what I am doing 100 per cent. I am concentrated but still I have my peace on the inside, I am relaxed and [will] just go out and race.”
He continued: “It would mean a lot [to win] because it would be history, but at the end I look at it like a bike race.”
Cancellara first won in Flanders in 2010, before following it with back-to-back victories in 2013 and 2014, and admitted it took many years for him to fall in love with the race. “It’s a late love, but a lifelong love,” he said.
This year will also be the final time the Swiss rider will go head-to-head with Tom Boonen, who is also aiming for a fourth win in the Flanders. The two have been the most successful Classics riders of their generation, and Cancellara believes the Etixx-Quick Step rider is still a strong contender to watch.
“He will be there, these are the races that he focuses on. He knows how he can win and how to race,” he said. “Maybe he hasn’t shown on the outside that he is strong, but we’re riding in the peloton so I can see more of the details.”
Watch: Tour of Flanders essential guide
Cancellara finished a disappointing fourth at both E3-Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem last weekend in the run up to Flanders. At E3 he punctured and had to use most of his energy to chase back to the main bunch, while he made the decisive breakaway at Wevelgem but lost out in the final sprint.
“I was expecting more. When I look back now for sure it was disappointing,” he said, “I can still work on a few things that are really necessary for Sunday.
“If you arrive with four riders and you finish fourth [like in Ghent-Wevelgem] then yeah that’s not good. But with negatives or with things like that you always can move obstacles, can only make it better, and that’s what I am working for. I already sprint better so I know the sprinting capacity can already be better.”