Pro cyclist Fabian Cancellara wants to fix cycling

The Swiss rider tells EDGAR he plans to speak out on drugs as he reflects on his impending retirement.

Robert Chilton October 26, 2016

Professional cyclist Fabian Cancellara says he wants to help the sport recover from its doping scandals when he retires at the end of 2016.

Cancellara, a hugely respected rider who turned pro in 2001 and won eight stages of the Tour de France, told EDGAR he felt he could lend his voice to the drugs debate after he quits cycling.

The troubled sport is currently reeling after hackers leaked files from the World Anti-Doping Agency that reveal Sir Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner in 2012, receivedthree therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for the anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone before major races in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Wiggins insists he did not use the drug to gain an unfair advantage.

“It’s such a mess,” said Cancellara in Dubai this week. “Now cycling looks bad again. For sure it’s a pretty big story, but I don’t want to go into more detail. It’s a private thing. It’s about someone’s private health.” 

The Swiss hero, 35, will ride a few more races in 2016 before embarking on the next chapter of his life. “I hope in the future I can help the sport,” adds Cancellara. 

“When you’re an athlete you’re focused on your performance and not the wider sport because it’s impossible. When I’m retired I can talk to the organisations or even the riders. Maybe I can be a consultant in meetings. I can talk differently about that now. I don’t say it’s definite but it’s an option for me.”

He was speaking to EDGAR at the IWC boutique in The Dubai Mall in his role as an IWC ambassador. Winning the time trial gold medal at the Rio Olympics this summer capped his career perfectly.

“Rio gave me a really nice ending, I don’t think it could have ended better than that. Now I feel good, I feel motivated, and I’m busy. Cycling is no longer the priority in my daily schedule as it was for 16 years.”

Cancellara spent 29 days in the yellow jersey, the most for any rider without winning the Tour de France, and is looking forward to skiing as well as cycling in his retirement. “Now I ride for myself and for my health. If I don’t exercise my body gets depressed, there’s no adrenaline, no endorphins, nothing. I did nothing for a week recently and I felt bad. Then I went for a 30-minute bike ride and, whoosh, I was happy again.” 

How will he feel when the big races come around in 2017 and he’s watching on the TV instead of being in the saddle? He puffs out his cheeks and laughs. “Good question. When the classics are coming my heart rate will be higher, pumping more.

"I watched the world championships in Doha last week and with 10km to go before the finish my heart rate was higher. I saw the end, I turned off the TV and that was that. The athlete’s feeling was gone, it felt strange. I’m not missing cycling. It’s just that everything’s new, everything’s different. I have to restart the button.” 

Fabian Cancellara is an ambassador for IWC.