Swiss cycling champion and IWC brand ambassador Fabian Cancellara tells the Journal about his “normal” days, his family life and his work with the Laureus Foundation.
FC: FABIAN CANCELLARA
RT: RASHUNDA TRAMBLE
RT: Is there such a thing as a normal day for you?
FC: Not really. But they are two types of days: Days when I travel – they are always different. But when I am home yes, then there is a kind of normality. I wake up my two daughters, have breakfast together, and take the younger one to school. After this, I go to the office. This is still the unusual part for me (wink). But it’s good and I feel that I’m getting used to it and that it helps me to structure my week in a “normal” way.
RT: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
FC: I open the window shades and see how the weather is. That’s maybe a relic from my career. I always had to mentally prepare for the training rides ahead. But still, nowadays it motivates me if the weather is nice and I am eager to go for a ride.
RT: How do you balance your work and family life?
FC: Good question. Is there a balance to it or is it more of an “integration”? I think the biggest difference to being an athlete is the shorter period of time you stay away from home. Back in the days I was off for almost 4 weeks during the Tour de France – and the family knew. Nowadays I am off for 2 days, 1 week, a few hours. This “unpredictability” is something that’s difficult. But I am learning how to plan and inform well ahead.
RT: How has your training program changed throughout your career?
FC: The training program itself has changed, yes. But what has changed most are the little gadgets you have in training. When I joined Team Mapei back in 2000, which was the “Real Madrid of Cycling” at that time, I got a heartrate belt. And I was like, “WOW!”. Today, all the riders are monitored, starting with cadence sensors, power meters, even the gears are recorded so your coach can exactly see in which gear you ride. This is maybe the biggest change. And of course, if you are an athlete at the top of the sport for 10 years, you start to well “plan” your peaks in training and you learn to know your body better and better. So you also have to trust in your feeling.
RT: You’re a Laureus Ambassador. Why do you believe sport can make a socioeconomic difference in a child’s life?
FC: The other day a little boy asked me, “Did you start cycling because you wanted to win a gold medal?” And I told him, “No. I started cycling because I loved my dad’s bike. I asked him whether I can borrow it. And when I first went out, doing a loop around our block, I immediately started to love riding the bike. This turned out to become a passion. I first went to the village next to ours, I went out spending time with my friends on the bike – this all made my horizon broader, and gave me power & trust in me as a human being”.
This is something sport can give and the reason why I am a Laureus Academy member. Nelson Mandela said: The sport has the power to unite the world. And this is what we should never forget about!
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