Name: Fabian Cancellara
Role: Classics rider, time trial specialist, all-round superstar
2011 WorldTour ranking: 13
- Tour de France: 5th in stage 21
- Vuelta a Espana: won team time trial (stage 2), 4th in stage 10
- Road World Championships: 3rd in time trial, 4th in road race
- Swiss National Road Race Champion
- Tirreno-Adriatico: won stage 7
- Milan-San Remo: 2nd
- E3 Harelbeke: 1st
- Tour of Flanders: 3rd
- Paris-Roubaix: 2nd
- Tour of Luexmbourg: won prologue
- Tour of Switzerland: won stages 1 & 9
Why I like him:
Let’s face it, any rider who can carry the nickname Spartacus and invent his own language (fabianese!) and not be laughed out of the peloton must be one hell of an athlete. With the heart of a lion and a brain as methodical as a Swiss timepiece, Fabian Cancellara is one hell of an athlete. He has mixed his exceptional time trialling talent with an insatiable hunger for some of the most gut-wrenching races in the cycling calendar to become one of the most respected, feared and exciting riders of the peloton.
Cancellara doesn’t ride defensively. Last year’s Classics disappointments were all the more galling for him as he believed the other riders rode against him as opposed to riding to win – a tactic I could never imagine him employing. He believes you work together and slog it out at the end – the best man will out. The fact that he made it onto the podium in three of the five 2011 Monuments: – 2nd in Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, 3rd in Tour of Flanders – and still deemed the spring a failure just shows what a monster rider he is.
I love the power and grace of Cancellara. He’ll ride himself to a virtual standstill to help tear the peloton to bits at the start of an important climb, he’s not too grand to fill up with bidons for his teammates during a long stage and when he races for himself, he rides to win, leaving it all out on the road. Oh, and he’ll pull out a piece of cake to snack on as he effortlessly flies down a descent, passing motorbikes on the way. Spartacus indeed!
Where to see him in 2012:
Spring Classics, Tour de France, London Olympics (road race and time trial), World Championships.
Watch out for regular updates tracking Fabian Cancellara’s 2012 season over the coming months.