‘Those climber guys can ride over the cobbles these days’ - Fabian Cancellara predicts a fast paced opening week at the Tour de France

Cancellara has won the opening stage of the Tour de France five times and knows the importance of a strong opening week

Fabian Cancellara
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fabian Cancellara knows more than most former professionals about how to hit the ground running. During his illustrious career he’s taken eight stage victories at the Tour de France, which include five on the opening day alone.

His expertise doesn’t end there. Throughout his time racing the Tour de France, he has led the race for a total of 29 days which is the most of any rider who has not won the race overall.

Looking back on his success, Cancellara told Cycling Weekly how everything needed time to reach the highest level in the sport. However, like most others in cycling, the Swiss ex-pro has noticed the speed with which the new generation of riders are reaching the top.  

“You can see the change of cycling with the young athletes now," he tells Cycling Weekly. "Now we are seeing riders of much younger ages getting wins, performing and competing in the front. It’s so different now to when I was riding when you saw riders of much older ages winning. Today we are seeing that cycling has become a modern trend sport with all the training, the new aerodynamics, the equipment, the nutrition that has made a huge step. That’s why everyone is faster than before and we are getting more intense races.” 

Fabian Cancellara

(Image credit: Getty Images)

AGGRESSIVE RACING ON THE ARENBERG

However, if you want to win the Tour overall this year, he believes that making the most of the modern day equipment that's available and racing aggressively on the cobblestones next week will be key. As well as his expertise in time trialling, Cancellara is the ‘King of the Cobbles’ and has won Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders three times apiece. Stage five (6 July) to Arenberg is widely predicted to be a gripping spectacle and one in which he expects to see the overall favourites at the forefront of the action. 

“I would still ride the cobbled stage the same way I have done in the years before because today you have the new equipment, you have your team and you ride as a team, you will need to be at the front and give it a go,” Cancellara said.

“For sure guys like Van Aert will challenge but you could even see a guy like Tadej Pogačar or even Roglic they also now know how to ride over those cobbles. It’s not anymore that those climber guys and favourites can’t ride over the cobbles. What’s changed is the team's equipment, they now have wider tyres, different bikes they can change and then to attack.” 

Cancellara added: “I haven’t seen in detail which cobbles they’re going to do but for sure it will be tough.  It will be a nervous day, a crazy day where we might see a lot of damage like we have already seen in the other years they’ve done this on the rainy cobbled stages or even on the dry cobbled stage that I did. It’s going to be a special day to watch and it could be more crucial than any other stage.”

Nowadays Cancellara still remains involved in the world of cycling and has recently launched a new limited edition kit in partnership with Le Col (opens in new tab). The jersey that they’ve collaborated on is an homage to the former champion's distinguished palmarès. 

“Putting all of the jerseys I have worn in my career in a final piece is amazing. We all have different great ideas so we can put them together. It’s great to put lots of different colours from different jerseys I have worn and that it doesn’t look too much. I think the end result with the whites and the reds means everything has a place as every team has been so important for me,” he said. 

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