‘Rio gold the per­fect ending’

Cy­cling great Can­cel­lara ready to re­tire af­ter Olympic suc­cess

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT - By Adrian Back @aidy­back

Af­ter 16 years at the very top of pro­fes­sional cy­cling, Fabian Can­cel­lara de­cided that 2016 would be his last in the sport.

It was a year in which he would have the chance to add to his Olympic medal collection and he could race in his home­town of Wohlen bei Bern dur­ing the Tour de France.

But none of this was on his mind, in fact it was back in 2013 that he made the de­ci­sion. It just so hap­pened that these spe­cial events co­in­cided with his fi­nal cam­paign on the bike. And it could not have worked out any bet­ter.

The Swiss su­per­star won gold in the men’s time trial in Rio, eight years af­ter tri­umph­ing in the same race in Bei­jing. But this time around, it meant even more.

“I knew my pro­fes­sional career stopped af­ter­wards so it was spe­cial,” Can­cel­lara told 7DAYS.

“I had to con­cen­trate on my per­for­mance and we had a plan and a tac­tic. I was ready and just fo­cused on the two laps.

“Not the contenders, the race, the mother, the wife or the kids; the last race or the gold or the sil­ver. It was just about putting power into the ped­als. “It was re­ally quite spe­cial.” Now, af­ter seven stage wins in the Tour de France and nu­mer­ous time trial world ti­tles, Can­cel­lara will fo­cus on the next stage of his career. He plans to “give some­thing back af­ter 16 years” and is de­ter­mined to work with kids. He hopes a new gen­er­a­tion of rid­ers will emerge now that he has left the sport and is ex­cited to see cy­cling growing in new re­gions – es­pe­cially the Mid­dle East.

With the World Cy­cling Cham­pi­onships re­cently be­ing held in Doha, Qatar and the Abu Dhabi Tour – which starts today and runs un­til Mon­day – re­ceiv­ing WorldTour sta­tus from next year, it is an ex­cit­ing time for cy­cling in the re­gion.

“Many peo­ple move to the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain and they don’t want to miss out on their hobby and there are so many tracks in the re­gion now,” said Can­cel­lara, who is a brand am­bas­sador for IWC and was speak­ing in Dubai.

“So for Abu Dhabi to gain a level, of course it is im­por­tant. It is im­por­tant for the youth, the rid­ers and the econ­omy. It is a win-win situation.

“As long as it isn’t 45 de­grees then it is okay to ride, cy­cling has to think global.”

De­spite the mass ap­peal of cy­cling, the sport has once again seen its name dragged through the mud due to an­other dop­ing con­tro­versy.

Rus­sian hackers Fancy Bear have been re­leas­ing dop­ing test of ath­letes in nu­mer­ous sports but the fo­cus has once again shifted to­wards cy­cling.

But for Can­cel­lara, he be­lieves the fo­cus is in the wrong place.

“Dop­ing is a sport prob­lem and not just a cy­cling prob­lem,” added the man known as ‘Spar­ta­cus’. “Cy­cling is al­ways the black sheep in sport.

“Cy­cling had a prob­lem and we are pay­ing for it. But dop­ing con­trol for us is nor­mal, it’s like hav­ing a cof­fee in the morn­ing.”

But now Can­cel­lara can for­get dop­ing tests and gru­elling train­ing ses­sions. Af­ter 16 years it’s time for him to just en­joy a leisurely ride, some­thing he hasn’t

done in a very long time.

END OF AN EPIC CAREER: Fabian Can­cel­lara is bring­ing an end to his hugely suc­cess­ful 16-year career in cy­cling

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