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Fabian Cancellara - Definitely One for the Future
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 11/3/2002
Fabian Cancellara - Definitely One for the Future

By Andrew McDobbin

Fabian Cancellara is one of the most promising talents in cycling today. The 21 year old Swiss is regarded as a time trial specialist, but he can also hold his own on the roads. Cancellara has spent 2001 and 2002 honing his skills with the Mapei Quick-Step Espoirs. With the Italian team having sadly disbanded, Fabian was snapped up eagerly by Fassa Bortolo.

This season, Cancellara has burst onto the scene with a host of victories and high placings: In late February, this young man travelled to Greece for the Tour of Rhodes, hoping for a repeat of the victory he’d achieved in 2001. Just as in 2001, he took the Prologue of the Tour of Rhodes (2.3 on the UCL Calendar) and his Mapei teammates went on to control the peloton during the next 4 stages, so that the lead never left him. In fact, Cancellara finished in the Top 15 of each of that quartet of stages, clearly showing he is an able sprinter too.

Photo by Manuela Kofler
Midway through March came another short stage race – the GP Erik Breukink (2.3) – which ended with an 18km time trial. After the first three stages (which had all resulted in bunch sprints), virtually all the competitors were tied. This gave Cancellara a great opportunity for another win on GC. The young Swiss raced eagerly to a great 3 second win over Brad McGee to secure another stage race win.

Almost exactly a month later came the ZLM Tour (1.5) – just a one-day race. Cancellara joined a break of 25 cyclists and when five of those broke away with 5 km left, he chased tenaciously, caught all of them and sprinted to an excellent win ahead of a certain Hans Dekkers. Clearly, the 21 year old can win on the long road races too…

His season was already shaping up nicely, and a 2nd place in May’s GP Winterthur (1.5) was another great result. The next month, he triumphed in the Bank Austria Tour Prologue of 11km, but was unable to convert that into the overall glory. In late August, he travelled with Hungarian TT specialist Laszlo Bodrogi to the GP Eddy Merckx (a two man time trial). Incredibly, they beat Gerolsteiner’s Michael Rich and Uwe Peschel into 2nd place by less than a second. Also well beaten were Lance Armstrong and Viatcheslav Ekimov, who finished 5th, nearly a minute behind. What a result!

A week before the World Championships in Zolder, Fabian Cancellara returned home to Switzerland to win the 40km time trial with shocking simplicity – winning by 1 minute 39 seconds from Jean Nuttli. This insured his participation in the Championships and despite being only 21 (and therefore eligible to compete in the Espoirs), Cancellara was put into the Swiss team for the Men’s Elite TT. He didn’t disappoint, finishing 9th and barely a minute down to the winner, Santiago Botero.

At the end of the season, Cancellara was brilliantly 62nd on the UCI rankings, finishing above such stars as Richard Virenque, Rik Verbrugghe and Christophe Moreau.

Disappointingly, Cancellara was inexplicably left out of the Mapei Espoirs team that went to the Tour de l’Avenir, a stepping stone for promising talents. Instead, his Russian teammate Eugeni Petrov stole the glory. I think it’s true to say that Cancellera is a poor climber, but that skill should come with age and training. If he is treated right and nurtured by Giancarlo Ferreti at Fassa Bortolo, he could be one of the best and most-liked Swiss cyclists since Tony Rominger (whose mould he seems to be in, especially if his climbing skills are honed carefully). Fabian Cancellera is definitely one for the future.

Giro dell’ Isola di Rodi
Tour of Rhodes - Prologue
Tour of Rhodes – Overall
End of Season UCI Ranking = 219th

Tour of Rhodes Prologue
Tour of Rhodes Overall
GP Erik Breukink – 4th Stage
GP Erik Breukink – Overall
ZLM Tour
Bank Austria Tour – 1st Stage
GP Eddy Merckx (with Laszlo Bodrogi)
End of Season UCI Ranking = 62nd

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