Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara has gone to extreme lengths to make sure his trip across the globe for the world road race cycling championships is all worth it.
However the Swiss cycling superstar maintains that a fourth, history-making victory in the race against the clock on Thursday will not be easy.
Cancellara, a three-time world champion in the discipline and a winner of some of cycling’s biggest one-day classics, will start the 45.8km test as the man to beat.
But in a bid to also give himself a chance in the road race on Sunday, the Berne native took the unusual step of organizing the loan of a bike during an 11-hour stopover in Singapore last week.
He telephoned the Swiss manager of a major hotel, who was only too happy to contribute to the national cause.
As a result, Cancellara got to have a training ride in rainy Singapore, which allowed his legs to keep ticking over for the challenges ahead.
Cancellara admitted that after so much time trial domination in recent years — he won world titles in 2006, 2007 and 2009 — only thoughts of history-making fourth win is keeping his motor purring.
“To be honest, I’m not as hungry (for victory) as I have been in the past few years, but when you’ve got the chance to make history it’s a different matter,” said Cancellara.
The men’s time trial will be held over two laps of a hilly 22.9km circuit on which there will be little room for respite, or recuperation.
Added to expected windy weather, Cancellara expects to be given a closer run than he normally would.
“I think the time trial course is even tougher than the road race circuit. It’s never really flat, so you have to have power in your legs throughout,” added Cancellara, who beat Sweden’s Gustav Larsson into second place by 1 minute, 27 seconds in 2009.
“And the wind will play an important role. It’s going to be tough. At the end of the day I’m a human being just like all the other riders.
“But I will have to be smart and know when to use my power, and how much to use, especially on the four climbs.”
Germany’s Tony Martin, one of the few riders to have beaten Cancellara this season, is expected to be Cancellara’s biggest challenger.
Last year Martin won bronze after finishing 2:30 behind the Swiss, but in the past year the 25-year-old has come on in leaps and bounds.
Asked if he believed the gap was closing, Martin said: “Yes, for sure. I think last year it was a matter of minutes. Now, it’s a matter of seconds.”
Germany have a tradition of producing strong time triallists, but despite Martin appearing to be the heir to Cancellara’s throne, the German has plenty of respect for the man known in the cycling world as “Spartacus”.
“I would love to win but I have to be realistic, with Cancellara,” he added. “If I can get on the podium, it would be really nice.”
Michael Rogers will lead the hosts’ hopes of a podium finish, although the Aussie — the only other rider in history to have three world time trial golds — is not expected to dominate.