Cancellara likes his odds in Sanremo lottery

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Mar. 15, 2016
With four wins to date this season, Fabian Cancellara is all smiles ahead of his final run at Milano-Sanremo. Photo: Tim De Waele |

SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (VN) — Fabian Cancellara is winning his way to Milano-Sanremo on Saturday. The Trek – Segafredo leader, racing in his final season, won Tirreno-Adriatico’s stage 7 time trial Tuesday afternoon and added to his 2016 haul: now four victories, including a record third win at Strade Bianche.

The time trial and classics specialist has won the San Benedetto stage four times. “I don’t know, four times now, maybe they should name a stretch of road after me here in San Benedetto or something,” Cancellara said with a laugh, referring to the honor he received for his third win at Strade in early March. “I’m not coming back, so it’s good to have my name in the record books.”

Besides being a four-time TT winner in San Benedetto, Cancellara won the overall Tirreno title in 2008. That year, he went on to win the Milano-Sanremo monument the following weekend. He placed on the podium four other times at “La Primavera” in subsequent years. With his season so far — victories in Spain, Portugal, and Italy — Cancellara is a favorite again to win on Sunday.

A win would go well with Cancellara’s 35th birthday Friday and would be fitting in his last season. He announced over the winter that, after 16 years, he would retire with the close of 2016.

“It will be emotional in Milan, of course,” continued Cancellara. “It’s the last time I start and roll out of Milan, but on the other hand, I know that I’ve won, and I’ve done well over the years in the race.”

Cancellara is on a list of favorites that includes Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet, and Tinkoff’s world champion, Peter Sagan. They will race the traditional course along the Ligurian coast over the Cipressa and Poggio and without the Mànie climb.

“It’s the most unpredictable race in my opinion. A lottery. It’s my feeling,” Cancellara said. “With or without Mànie, the cold and rain, or without the cold and rain. Of course, you need to have the instinct and certain experience, which I have. For me, though, it still stays the biggest lottery of the year.”

Cancellara shows no sign of easing off in his final year. On Tuesday’s out-and-back course along Italy’s east coast, he clocked 11:08 minutes, compared to 11:23 in 2015. He said the win was “business as usual,” but 2016 seems to be a fine vintage for the Swiss.

In 2015, Cancellara crashed and broke vertebrae in the E3 Harelbeke and abandoned his classics campaign. He fought back to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour but crashed in a large pile-up while in the lead and had to quit. In the Vuelta a España, he fell ill and ended his season with disappointment.

“I would’ve had a problem stopping like that,” he said. “I don’t want to have regrets.”

Also on the menu, Cancellara has the major cobbled classics and the Giro d’Italia, where he wants to wear the pink jersey for his first time.

FILED UNDER: News / Road TAGS: /

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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