Fabian Cancellara knew he wanted to be a professional road bicycle racer the moment he rode his father’s old Italian bike for the first time. More than twenty years and numerous titles later, he announced the end of his overwhelming career. The Swiss with the nickname “Spartacus” who is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve talks to Mariella Frostrup about the hardest moments of his career and the sacrifices he had to make.
Fabian Cancellara competed in his first cycle race at the age of 12. He took part in his last major race as a professional cyclist 23 years later at the Olympic Games in Rio. He won that race, making him the only road bicycle racer with three Olympic medals (two gold, one silver). His strength is the reason for his nickname “Spartacus”. In 17 years as a professional racer, he won 86 races. Out of his 1,072 racing days, he climbed the podium 146 times. With seven victories at the Monuments Milan–San Remo (1), the Tour of Flanders and Paris–Roubaix (3x each), he is one of the top pro cyclists of all time. No one can beat the Bern native when it comes to mental strength. The longer the race, the better he performs. He has cycled in 98 one-day races that were 200 kilometres or longer, and has made it to the podium 35 times. The four-time world time trial champion has won 55 time trials and 8 stages of the Tour de France. He has worn the race leader yellow jersey for a total of 29 days: more than any other cyclist who has not won the Tour overall. Furthermore, he is a 12-time Swiss national champion. When Cancellara retired, the peloton lost its last great patron.
Often the strongest in sport, in life he champions the weakest: Fabian Cancellara is an ambassador for the Laureus Foundation of Switzerland, which seeks to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children through sport.