TFR.com: So to start off, how do you feel right now?
Fabian Cancellara: Okay. Good, actually. Healthy. Nothing is off, everything is on schedule. We had perfect weather for camp, with no rain. It made it for an easy time even; there was lots to do. We had a ton of meetings, but they were all good talks. The training was about building up the foundation and building base.
TFR.com: This year the camp was two days longer than last year. How was that for you?
FC: It was maybe easier than last year. I’m used to so many things going on, and at camp there is always so much we have to do. But we knew it would be like this; we are not a third league cycling team.
TFR.com: You have now stayed in the same hotel for a third year in a row. Do you find that an advantage?
FC: Yah, for me it doesn’t really matter - so long as we have our cook (Kim Rokkjaer)! You are quiet here, even though there’s a lot going on. It’s nice. There’s a sauna here too! And we know the roads super well; it makes it better so there’s no adaption time when we arrive. You know what you get.
TFR.com: You have put a date to end your career after 2016, so only two more seasons on your program. How does that make you feel?
FC: Well it doesn’t make me scared – more it makes me think. I just want to enjoy every moment. What I won, I have, and nobody can take that away. I don’t feel any pressure.
TFR.com: You have now had 14.5 seasons as a pro. Can you compare this off-season to all the others?
FC: I was home for seven weeks, except for maybe two nights. That’s the longest I was home in a long time. In 2012, I was home for a similar period after I fractured my collarbone, but that’s not the same of course. I have to say I liked this off-season a lot! Autumn was beautiful in Suisse. My batteries are charged.
TFR.com: What is the hardest part about the job?
FC: For sure being away from the family and friends and your home. That’s becoming harder and harder as you get older. A young rider is more egoist; they can handle the lifestyle of being on the road so much. Also, you have to remember there’s a next life as well, and it’s longer than your pro rider life. When you’re older you think about that.
TFR.com: How do you look back at 2014?
FC: Close the book and look ahead.
TFR.com: Was 2014 a good book?
FC: There were lots of chapters, but all different. The highlight was Flanders, of course, and also my pretty strong 10-day ride in the Tour (de France) was also memorable. There were ups and downs, and I was not so consistent, maybe. You can say that 2011-2014 is maybe one big book. 2014 had a lot of the previous years in it, in a way. It’s hard to explain.
TFR.com: You always said quality over quantity. Flanders was quite something!
FC: Flanders is not enough. I am not satisfied.
TFR.com: What is your program for 2015?
FC: It will be a traditional start: Middle East, Italy, Belgium leading to the Classics.
TFR.com: What did you think of Gert Steegmans being brought into the team at the last moment?
FC: He is a strong guy and now the Classics’ team is stronger. For sure, he raises the level. It will challenge the Classics’ group and also helps the sprinters. I’m happy. It was a nice Christmas present!
TFR.com: What are your plans for Christmas?
FC: For me it is a time for being with the family: Eating together, sitting down and opening presents and just enjoying the Christmas time. I love the ambience, the candles, the decorations. Already, I had put the Christmas lights outside before coming to camp!
I always take one or two days of easy training at this time, and on the 25th no bike. We will celebrate at home with singing, listening to Christmas music, and of course eating a lot with a nice bottle of wine. Life is too short for bad wine! It's a time when you think back at the year that has gone by – for me December is an emotional month.