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Can Cancellara really become a GT contender?

May 6, 2009
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I know Fabian Cancellara wants to become a Grand Tour contender, his main dream being the Tour de France. Aside from having a really good doping program (and would that consist of?), what else do you think he would need? I guess give up on the Classics, and lose at 5-10kgs, the big concern would be sacrificing power and I guess his time trial ability would suffer, but would still expect him to beat somebody Andy Schleck in a TT. I don't think he would be able to make as many accelerations like Contador or Schleck do, more a guy who could limit his losses on the mountain stages and then try to beat them in the Chrono.

Also I don't think he could do at the Tour, with everybody on their A-game, and if he were to target the Giro or the Vuelta, he would probably a need a Francesco Moser-type course that could suit him to the ground.

I still think it is a pipe dream though, I mean hey my dream is to win Paris - Roubaix and somehow I don't think that will happen.
 
May 26, 2010
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Indurain did it in the right circumstances, but dont think those are possible to a rider like Canc and the moment and for the foreseeable future, but who knows i always believed that the TdF chose certain routes to suit certain riders, so it maybe possible should they keep it flattish with long TTs
 
Apr 14, 2010
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I've seen an interview where Brad McGee (Saxo DS, former pursuit/team pursuit WC and Giro 8th placer) has been asked his view on Spartacus' chances of converting into a GT rider and he was of the belief he wouldn't be able to make the jump. He sited his size, and that he would lose too much power to come down to the weight most GT contenders race at - like boxers trying to come down in too many weight divisions - and felt at best he may top 10, but certainly not win. He did feel he'd be more than capable of winning shorter stage races, but not GTs.
 
Aug 27, 2010
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Well if the TdF route designers think it's a good idea with 2x60km flat ITT, and mountainstages that isn't TOO steep, then yeah I think he could pull it off in about 3 years time. With only short flat ITT's and plenty of uphill finishes, I would say no.

If he shed some weight he isn't that different from Indu imho.
 
I don't know if he could - but I'd love to see him try!

As has been mentioned many times before he needed to shed some weight, although I can't see where he could! Obviously he could shed some muscle and as everybody else says he would lose some edge on TT.

I would see his bid as along Ullrich - more TT than climbing.

One main would be down to the course - as much TT as possible. And if there were more stages as the cobbles one this year, that would suit him as well.

I think, and hope, he will try to do the transition from classics to Tour after the next one or two seasons...
 
Feb 14, 2010
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He's got more potential than that Armstrong kid had.

I wonder how far in advance he sees this happening, because he's 29 years old. If he expects it in the next couple of years, Team Luxembourg would be a really poor choice if he's focused on the Tour de France. I can't imagine him doing it in the hope of a Vuelta win.

I think making drastic changes to his body would be a huge risk to his career, especially with Contador, Schleck and Nibali around, and other younger riders showing potential. He could target a Tour that ends up with stages totally unsuited to him.

The body he has now is suited to races throughout the calendar year. I'll be really surprised if he goes for it.
 
craig1985 said:
I know Fabian Cancellara wants to become a Grand Tour contender, his main dream being the Tour de France. Aside from having a really good doping program (and would that consist of?), what else do you think he would need?

Just curious by the way... This whole discussion seems more a general topic than a clinic one, but did you post it here because of the bolded line?

In the end I think this discussion is more about the prospects of "will he go for it?" and "can he achieve it?" than about any potential related doping program.

Does anybody have any comments on the doping bit - I don't...
 
I understand the Tour is the big prize, but Fabian has made a great career doing what he does best.

He can just keep doing the same thing while slowly but surely losing a bit more weight to see if it doesn't adversely affect his power.

I see him as an Abraham Olano, not an Indurain-type. Olano lost a lot of weight over the course of his career and was still never able to climb well enough to take a Giro or Tour. And the Vuelta he did win in 1998 was due to his time trialing.
 
theswordsman said:
He's got more potential than that Armstrong kid had.

I wonder how far in advance he sees this happening, because he's 29 years old. If he expects it in the next couple of years, Team Luxembourg would be a really poor choice if he's focused on the Tour de France. I can't imagine him doing it in the hope of a Vuelta win.

I think making drastic changes to his body would be a huge risk to his career, especially with Contador, Schleck and Nibali around, and other younger riders showing potential. He could target a Tour that ends up with stages totally unsuited to him.

The body he has now is suited to races throughout the calendar year. I'll be really surprised if he goes for it.

Agree on the Armstrong bit.

I do think he sees it two year thing and for that same reason I don't think he would go to Lux. He would want to find a team where he can work towards being a Tour contender in a few years (BMC?). As you, I don't think he's too interested in other GTs...

I don't think he would try to force a "dramatic change" to his body for those same reasons, but build on his strengths and minimise his weaknesses. You know, marginal gains - the Sky way! In the end I'm not sure he himself sees it as if he has to change dramatically - remember one of the reasons he gets dropped so heavily in the mountains is because he does the "windwork" and sets pace on the first part. If he could avoid losing too much time going uphill he would already be quite high up on the GC...

I wouldn't be too surprised...
 
Berzin said:
I understand the Tour is the big prize, but Fabian has made a great career doing what he does best.

He can just keep doing the same thing while slowly but surely losing a bit more weight to see if it doesn't adversely affect his power.

I see him as an Abraham Olano, not an Indurain-type. Olano lost a lot of weight over the course of his career and was still never able to climb well enough to take a Giro or Tour. And the Vuelta he did win in 1998 was due to his time trialing.

Agree... Maybe an Ullrich type (well, without the baby-phat)
 
I don't think so. He is almost thirty and he likes winning classics too much, and he knows he would have to change everything. His weight, training, race schedule, diet etc........I think he would prefer to win two or thee more Paris Roubaix's which he has a good chance of doing. Winning the Tour of Switzerland over one week, with only moderate climbs to race on is not like winning a three week grand tour. I thought his spring classic wins this year were incredible.
 
He's worth more to sponsors as the "sure thing" he is now - someone who can compete and win in spring, summer and autumn. The GC competition is high and with no guarantee of success I can't see him commanding the same fee if he goes down that route (unless the insiders know something about his abililities that the rest of us don't).
 
Nope Cancellara can not become a gt rider. Gts are won in the mountains. There are many proffesionals who are perfectly built for, specialise, and spent there whole lives training for climbing. There is no way Cancellara, someone who not built for climbing who doesnt specialise in it and hasnt been training just climbing his whole life, can suddenly become a super climber. I also think he would lose a lot of his tt form without even getting close to the climbing ability needed

I think the reason people think he might is because of Wiggins, but i think that was a 1 of. Yes he came 4th but that was a tour were the mountains were taken lightly he wasnt seen as a contender and he is no climber.

Of course if he can get the best dope then maybe he can do it.

And I think this year was his best chance.
If he could have gone solo on the Arenberg stage from say 40k out, taken a huge ammount on challengers - about 6- 7 minutes, ( have Frank sacrifice himself like he did for Andy ;) )
Paced by team on flat stages.
Have Andy pace him up climbs and can make time back on descents.
Would have lost about 3 minutes on Morzine,
Could limit his losses to 2 minutes on Madeline if his team waited for him on the bottom of the descent which he would blitz, then ttt it to the finish.
Would lose 3 minutes on Ax 3 Domainx.
Lose 2 minutes on Bangeres de Lucheeon
Lose nothing on Pau.
Lose 5 minutes on Tourmalet
take minutes out of gc guys in the tt ( i know the wind was in his favour and in my scenario it wouldnt be, but a peak Cancellara can easily crush the Schlecks, Contadors of 2010 by 4 - 5 minutes and Menchov by about 3 minutes.

Then maybe, just maybe he could have got a podium.
 
Apr 26, 2010
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Exactly. The rewards do not add up to all the sacrifices he would have to make. Cancellara should not try to become a GT contender. I think it is much more favourable fro him to continue doing what he does, winning classics, winning TT's and wearing prestigious jerseys, instead of changing diet, training, etc, and having the prospect of failing miserably and ending 24th in a grand tour.
 
right team, right course and a lot of luck
like a split peleton giving him 17mins after a commanding win in the prologue a stage or two earlier...

if he really wanted to, then I'm sure he'd find a team willing to back him properly. the rest is just down to luck and getting the most suitable course
 
May 5, 2009
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It is an extremely demanding challenge and I doubt he will succeed, but then again who else if not Spartacus?

There were many excellent GT contenders with strong TT capabilites but also decent climbing skills (Indurain, LA, AC 2009 edition, Rominger, Zülle, ...). I don't think it is a given that he will inevitably become a weaker time trialist if he loses the 5-7 kgs to be more competitive in the mountains. TT is a lot also about position and curve technique, where he has proven his outstanding qualities.

What is however on a completely different set is

1) with 29 years, there are not many Tours left to go for it
2) given the spare opportunities, luck and profile/design of the course is crucial
3) while he as impressively shown the ability to target one day courses and be at his top condition, it is a substantially different coup of tea to keep the form for three weeks and particularly have no "jour sans"

Personally, I hope he will go for Roubaix and Flanders next year again and then start his metamorphose for LBL, Lombardia and GT's / Tour de France. Would be pretty interesting to observe...
 
The Hitch said:
Nope Cancellara can not become a gt rider...
...Then maybe, just maybe he could have got a podium.

The first and last sentences of your post don't seem to go very well together! If it was already conceivable this year that, without making changes to his weight, conditioning or schedule, he could have finished on the podium, then it certainly is possible for him to be a GT contender.

As it happens, I don't think that there was even an outside chance of a podium this year, even if he had a bunch of lucky breaks and the team working for him. I do think that under those circumstances a top 10 might have been just about imaginable.

If he completely altered his season and made all of the necessary changes to focus on the GC at a Grand Tour, then there is a possibility of him becoming a podium contender. But only the possibility. Nobody can know how his Time Trialling would hold up and how much his climbing can improve until he tries. He might end up screwing up his TT while still not being able to hold on in the mountains.

It's a huge risk and one he'd be nuts to take in cost/benefit terms, given his current preeminence at the Classics and Time Trials. Then again, he doesn't have anything to prove in his present disciplines and if he's rich enough and confident enough in his palmares he simply might not care. Michael Jordan stopped playing basketball for a number of years to play baseball just because he wanted to have a go at baseball. I think even his harshest critic would accept that Cancellara has more chance of reinventing himself as Miguel Indurain than Jordan did as Babe Ruth!

There is a wider issue to consider too, which is the disappearance of the top level "all-rounder" from the sport. There was a long line of riders who could compete successfully at every or almost every discipline throughout the history of cycling. But there hasn't been one since Sean Kelly retired. I wonder if the sport has changed in ways that prohibit the possibility of such figures emerging again.
 
He would need the following:

1- A good friendship with the Tour de France association so they can design the course for him. Good examples of this: Moser in the 1984 Giro, Hianault in the 1985 Tour.

2- A good partnership with Energizer.

3- A good partnership with Ferrari.

4- Don't go to the Lux team so you don't have to deal with the drinking habits. That won't help your weight either.

5- Forget about the Classics.

And now maybe you have a GT champion.:cool:

Isn't this too much trouble for the prize? He is already popular doing what he does best.
 
Aug 10, 2009
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craig1985 said:
I know Fabian Cancellara wants to become a Grand Tour contender, his main dream being the Tour de France.

Why do you say "You know" he wants this?

I've not seen anything where Cancellara states this as a real goal. A dream maybe... but he seems quite happy being what he is : the world's best time trialist , a phenomenal classics rider, a stage racer for the 10 day or less tours.