Fast Fabian at the 2007 World's
(photo by Bruce Christie, Creative Commons)
Although I am no hero-worshipper of athletes, there are some pro cyclists whose efforts I particularly admire. They tend to be time-triallists (no surprise there, I suppose) and taller and heavier than the typical pro. I have stood next to Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego (luckily not at the same time!) and although they are great climbers I felt as if I was next to children. Being of, ahem, a certain weight and height I identify with racers who have to fight gravity and wind resistance as well as the competition. My favourite of all time has to have been Eros Poli, a gigantic domestique who won the Mont Ventoux stage at the Tour de France. So there.
Anyway, a rider whom I like very much since I watched a DVD of him win the prologue of the 2003 Tour de Suisse, riding then for Fassa Bortolo, is the Swiss Fabian Cancellara. His breakthrough year was 2004, when he came fourth at Paris-Roubaix and then went on to beat Lance Armstrong and win the prologue at the Tour de France that year. Since then he has gone from strength to strength. Since joining Team CSC he has won Paris-Roubaix, Tirrano-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, as well as wearing the Yellow Jersey and the Green Jersey at the Tour de France, winning the UCI time trial world championship twice and taking gold at the Olympic time trials and a very surprising bronze in the Olympic road race in Beijing. He is six-time Swiss national time trial champion. In 2006 at Salzburg his time on the 50.8 km World Championship time trial course was 1 hour and 11 seconds, a minute and a half faster than the next rider.
And he is nice to his fans too. Nicknamed "Spartacus," he still lives in his home area in Switzerland and is happy to sign postcards for fans. Recently in the mail I got the one shown on the left, marking his Olympic success, and personally signed for me and dated.
As the long dark winter approaches and I am on the time trial bike in the basement, watching the Tour de Suisse and enjoying the sunny weather and perfect roads in DVD-land, this is a bit more motivation! Now, all I need is one of those Cervelo P3s...