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Cancellara attempts to make Ronde history in final year

Fabian Cancellara is aiming for a record-breaking fourth career Tour of Flanders title this Sunday

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GHENT, Belgium (VN) — Swiss classics specialist Fabian Cancellara (Trek – Segafredo) has a chance to make history this Sunday in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). If the three-time winner takes another title, he will hold the record for race victories in a career, and would do so in his last season and in the 100th edition of Belgium’s biggest race.

The Ronde is held in high regard in the small country. Some local newspapers devote up to 16 pages to the race in the days running up to the event, and five years ago, a fictional television series was created based on it.

Cancellara, who hails from the Swiss capital city of Bern, has essentially become an honorary Belgian. His titles in 2010, 2013, and 2014 put him alongside five other three-time winners. They include Fiorenzo Magni and Johan Museeuw, and the still active Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step). If Cancellara were to win Sunday in Oudenaarde, his name would take on added prominence in the books that are sure to be written about the 100 editions of the race.

“It would be history-making. It would mean a lot to win for a fourth time,” Cancellara told press at a conference Friday in Bruges, a few miles from the city’s center and start of the race tomorrow.

“It’s a bike race and one of the most beautiful of the year. I’m approaching it as a race, that’s it. If it comes, it comes. I can say, though, that I’m 100% ready for it and will do everything possible with my hands, and legs, to win.”

Cancellara dropped Boonen over Kapelmuur to win in 2010, back when the race finished in Ninove. In recent editions, his move has usually come on the Oude Kwaremont climb that organizer Flanders Classics lines with VIP tents.

This year, the race covers 255.9 kilometers, a distance that includes some of the worst cobbled farm roads in Flanders. Part of the distance is uphill, with 18 climbs counted on the official profile. In the final, the riders will take on two loops of the Kwaremont and subsequent Paterberg climb.

Cancellara wants to ride into history, but he is also wise enough to know that may need to allow his teammate to ride free. Some are saying that Edward Theuns or Jasper Stuyven could be the ones to win in their home race.

“The other teams say that they will try to anticipate my attacks? Let’s see their tactics, but we have our own too. I’m not riding alone, I have teammates. We can play tactics,” said Cancellara.

“I always remember Paris-Roubaix with Stuart O’Grady [Cancellara’s former CSC teammate who rode off to win in 2007]. I want to win Flanders, but during a race, many things can happen. We have a tactic and we’ll stick to it, but when the teams’ second lines move, we’ll do the same.”

However it happens, Cancellara will not return to race. Over the winter, he said that 2016 would be his last season. It’s already started well for him with wins in Spain and Portugal and two in Italy with Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico’s time trial stage. In Milano-Sanremo and Gent-Wevelgem, he played important roles in the races’ results. He formed the winning move over the Kemmelberg climb in Gent-Wevelgem, with world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff). As such, he is favorite to win “De Ronde” in his last season.

“This is the last press conference here, it’s the last of everything this year,” Cancellara added. “That’s something to think about later. I want to perform and there’s no space for that now if you want to perform.”

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