Fabian Cancellara: 'They talk about Sagan and Van Avermaet, but it's not the same as me and Tom'

The Classics great says the burgeoning rivalry of Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet can't compare to the duels between him and Tom Boonen

Recently retired Classics great Fabian Cancellara, says that the rivalry between Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) is not the same as what he had with Tom Boonen in their golden years.

The Swiss stopped last year after winning Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix three times each. Often, he crossed swords with Quick Step’s Belgian Tom Boonen, who retires this April 9 after Paris-Roubaix.

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"It was me or him, it was always me and him, or you'd get a one-off, nothing against the other riders," Cancellara told Sporza.

"The Tour of Flanders from 2010 affected that status, then there were years I was in and he wasn't, or I was out and he was in. Still we rode in the peloton for years and that [duel] status came up.

"Now they talk about Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet, the new duel, but it's not the same duel that Tom and I delivered to each other or the people watching at home."

Van Avermaet took some of his biggest wins against the Slovakian world champion. This year and last, the Belgian won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad ahead of Sagan.

Watch: Tour of Flanders essential guide

He attacked up the Kemmelberg in Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday, Sagan raced to join him, and left his rival on the flats with Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott).

"I had many moments against Tom, but for sure [the 2010 Tour of Flanders] stands out. He was in the Belgian national jersey, I was as in the Swiss jersey.

"For sure, that day has its history, he was the favourite and the country was looking at that one day, then I was there and didn't move. For sure it was a duel, we went alone together, it turned out for me and I won."

Cancellara predicts exciting races over the next two weeks in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix because he said everyone good winters.

"Greg and Peter Sagan are maybe a level higher, but we've seen other riders at a big level," he said.

"The people at home make their comments about who's strongest, if it's Tom, if it's me, if it's Sagan or Van Avermaet. It's always different. I don't think you can say it's the best because all of us would have to be in that one race together."

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.