When writer Morten Okbo spent three days with Fabian Cancellara, the subject of motorised bikes was going to come up at some point.
Naturally, after discussing business and family life, partying with Bjarne Riis and the market for yoga apparel, it happens when the pair descend into the Swiss superstar’s Aladdin’s cave of memorabilia at some undisclosed location below Bern.
The following transcripts are an extract from the second half of the serialised interview with Cancellara which appears in Rouleur 18.3.
Fabian: My father has a lot of stuff, too. Sometimes he comes and take one of the bikes. Then when I see it again, he’s cleaned it and I go: No!! What are you doing! I want them as they were after the race. Dirty or broken. Whatever condition.
Morten: Engine still running.
Fabian: Morten, please.
Morten: It goes: daddak dakdak, Fabian.
Fabian: In fact, I have nothing in the house from my career. Except for the Roubaix stones. And the Flanders trophies.
Morten: In the sauna, yes. Listen. Has anyone asked to see the Flanders bike?
Fabian: It’s right there. Take it. Test it. Scan it. Do what you want.
Morten: When I see that film clip, I look more at Tom Boonen. He’s dying in front of my eyes.
Morten: People think De Ronde is more difficult to win than Milan-Sanremo. Or Paris-Roubaix. You won all of them. What do you think?
Fabian: Milan-Sanremo. It is too unpredictable. It doesn’t matter if you are the strongest. Many riders can win. Will it be a sprint, or a group, or someone going solo? The climbs are there but the sprinters can get over them if they are on form.
Morten: When you won, it was like everyone had predicted you would do it.
Fabian: I had won Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico that year and people said: don’t give him five metres. Everyone knew what I was going to do. And so I did it and no one could follow me. But look at the bike. It’s aero, right? So now look at the wheels compared to the Specialized bike over there. Both are high profile and almost the same height. But there is an eight-year gap between those bikes. It shows you what we were doing back then. This bike was considered aero back then. And now this is aero. But they are almost the same.
Fabian: Same with my bearings later. The oil we used. It’s for sale now, of course, and there is even a website.
Morten: And that’s okay, right?
Fabian: Of course! Now it doesn’t matter. But back then it was our magic. My guy sat with a stethoscope and listened to my wheel bearings. And he treated them until there was no friction. Same with the chain. And later we did it with the skinsuits. We were just ahead. We found the key within the limitations and the rules. Look. It’s like training analysis. If everyone knows what watts you are producing, you must look somewhere else to find the gain. And if this is the line you keep under the line, but find your special magic somewhere within the rules. And that’s why I have nothing to hide. Come on. I won all my races the way I won. I won sprints sitting down. I beat Kirsipuu. I beat Zabel. Sitting, Morten. I’m sorry. You maybe remember at the Tour when I also sat down and beat them all? And then this climbing up to the… to the… Muur.
Morten: You struggle with the name?
Fabian: The Muur! Where I accelerated. If you watch it. Boonen. He is just dead fucking flat, Morten. He’s dead! And then this talk about a small button. It’s sad. It’s sad! I’m an emotional person. Of course, I care about it. I am a role model. I understand I’m a public figure. I accept it. Someone who young people look to. I never forget my backpack. The responsibility towards my family and the federation, sport, even the country and cycling in general.