Date of birth: March 18, 1981
Fabian Cancellara is one of the greatest classics riders and time triallists of his generation. The Swiss rider, who retired in 2016, is a four-time world time trial champion and three time winner of both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. He was a regular on the podiums of other Classics and would have won more had his rivals not worked out ways to beat him.
The classics form only half of his back catalogue as time trials make up the other. His talent against the clock has brought him several victories in Tour de France prologues, and as a result he is the rider who has spent longest in the Tour's yellow jersey once you've excluded the winners.
Fabian Cancellara turned professional with Mapei-Quick Step in 2001 at the age of just 19 after impressing with a second place finish at the Under-23 World Time Trial Championships.
From there Cancellara moved to Fassa Bortolo in 2003, picking up a number of time trial wins during his first season at the team, including prologues at the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, and also rode his first ever Classic, finishing 73rd at the Tour of Flanders.
The Swiss rider's first notable success in the Classics came the following season at Paris-Roubaix, where he arrived in the famous velodrome in the leading group, but missed out in the sprint to finish fourth. That year also saw him wear the Tour de France yellow jersey for the first time, winning the prologue time trial in Liège.
After a relatively quiet year in 2005, Fabian Cancellara joined Team CSC in 2006, and immediately found success, winning his first Classic at Paris-Roubaix with the sort of solo victory that would become his trademark for the next decade. That season also saw Cancellara take his first World Championship title, beating American Dave Zabriskie by over a minute in Salzburg.
The following season saw Cancellara suffer a poor Classics campaign, finishing 53rd in the Tour of Flanders and 19th in Paris-Roubaix. However he found greater success in the summer, winning the Tour de France prologue on the streets of London, taking the yellow jersey in the process, which he would hold until the first mountain stage at the end of the first week. Cancellara also successfully defended his rainbow bands in Stuttgart.
2008 saw no cobbled Classic victory for Cancellara, but it did see him take the only Milan-San Remo victory of his career. At the Tour de France there was no yellow jersey, but he did help team-mate Carlos Sastre to the overall title in Paris, and at the Olympics he won gold in the time trial and bronze in the road race to cap another successful season.
The next season saw Fabian Cancellara again go without a Classics victory, but he did at least manage to win the opening stages of both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, won the overall title of the Tour de Suisse, and took a third World Time Trial Championships on home roads in Switzerland, and even managed to place fifth in the road race.
2010 saw Cancellara return to form over the cobblestones, winning both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix with powerful solo efforts. The Swiss rider memorably dropped Tom Boonen on the Muur Van Geraardsbergen to win Flanders, but Roubaix was even more impressive, going solo with more than 50km to go to win by more than two minutes.
The victories then kept coming throughout the year, with Cancellara take prologue victories at the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France, before rounding out the year with a fourth, and what would turn out to be final, World Championship win.
The following year proved less successful as Cancellara suffered from a lack of team support and perhaps a little over-ambition at the Classics, where a bold attack with 60km to go at the Tour of Flanders left him with little left in the tank for the sprint finish. He also struggled in the Tour de France, where he was only able to take seventh place in the only individual time trial of the race, which was won by Tony Martin, who would consistently get the better of Cancellara against the clock over the coming years.
2012 was a year of bad luck. After being out-sprinted by Simon Gerrans at Milan-San Remo, Cancellara crashed out of the Tour of Flanders suffering a bad collarbone break in the process. He returned to take yet another yellow jersey at the Tour de France prologue, but would miss out on Olympic glory a few weeks later after crashing in the road race when in the front group.
Perhaps spurred on by the disappointments of 2012, Cancellara reached new heights in the spring of 2013. A powerful solo attack gave him the win at E3 Harelbeke, and although this made him a marked man for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, he won both; Flanders after dropping Peter Sagan at the top of the Paterberg with 13km to go, and Roubaix after out-sprinting Sep Vanmarcke.
In order to focus on the World Championships, Cancellara decided to miss the Tour de France for the first time since 2006, but fell short in Florence, finishing third behind Tony Martin and Bradley Wiggins.
The 2014 Tour of Flanders saw Cancellara take his final victory in a Monument, winning the group sprint to the line ahead of Greg Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke. Another podium came a week later at Paris-Roubaix, where Cancellara finished third after Niki Terpstra launched a late solo attack.
In 2015, Cancellara was a shadow of his former self, being ruled out of the Classics with injury and picking up only a single victory. However he returned with a vengeance for his final season in 2016.
There were no spring victories for Cancellara to cap off his career, although he still performed well, taking 2nd place in the Tour of Flanders behind a peerless Peter Sagan. He then followed that up with an astonishing 11th national time trial title, before bowing out of professional riding with an unexpected victory in the Olympic time trial in Rio de Janeiro.
Taking their breath away: Remembering Fabian Cancellara's best year
The Swiss enjoyed the greatest season of his career in 2010. In the first of a new series, Chris Marshall-Bell looks back at how he dominated cycling then
Fabian Cancellara: It’s sad we’re not seeing races, but we have to live with the reality
Fabian Cancellara laments the cancellation of the Classics, but supports the global lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.
By Alex Ballinger •
Fabian Cancellara: 'Motor allegations hurt, but I didn't need to prove anything to anyone'
Cancellara says he proved throughout his career that he was capable of winning the world's biggest races
By Gregor Brown •
Fabian Cancellara: 'Don't compare Strade Bianche with Paris-Roubaix'
Classics legend Fabian Cancellara says Strade Bianche cannot be compared to the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix.
By Gregor Brown •
Fabian Cancellara challenges Phil Gaimon to beat him in a 'Chasing Cancellara' race
Challenge comes after Phil Gaimon repeated the rumour in his book 'Draft Animals' that Fabian Cancellara may have used a hidden electric motor during the 2010 season
By Nigel Wynn •
Phil Gaimon issues statement on Fabian Cancellara motor doping allegation
American former pro rider Phil Gaimon issues statement relating to the passage in his book 'Draft Animals' that alleges Fabian Cancellara could have used an electric motor in 2010
By Nigel Wynn •
Fabian Cancellara's lawyers demand book that alleges motor doping be withdrawn from sale
Phil Gaimon's book 'Draft Animals' claimed that Fabian Cancellara probably had a hidden electric motor in his bike during 2010 Classics wins – now Cancellara wants an apology
By Nigel Wynn •
'It's impossible that a motor was hidden': Fabian Cancellara's former mechanic rubbishes motor doping claims
A former Team Saxo Bank mechanic has dismissed claims that Fabian Cancellara used a hidden motor made by retired American rider Phil Gaimon.
By Henry Robertshaw •
Fabian Cancellara motor doping claims could be investigated by UCI
Allegations made by former pro Phil Gaimon that Fabian Cancellara may have used a hidden electric motor in his bike may be subject to investigation by sport's governing body
By Nigel Wynn •
Fabian Cancellara: 'If you compete solely for the money you don't get results'
Former time trial world champion and classics star Fabian Cancellara says that he is not interested in becoming a sports director and is not motivated by money
By Nigel Wynn •