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Cancellara targets Giro’s pink jersey for final season

The Swiss star will retire at the end of next season, a campaign during which he hopes to win a monument and lead the Giro d'Italia.

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TREVISO, Italy (VN) — Fabian Cancellara still wants to win another monument, from Milano-Sanremo to Paris-Roubaix, but for his final season he has in mind something he lacks on his palmarès: the Giro d’Italia’s pink jersey. When Trek partnered with new co-sponsor Segafredo Wednesday, the Swiss rider confirmed his early 2016 schedule will feature the three-week Italian tour in May.

Cancellara has already won stages and worn the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, and he’s earned stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana. His palmarès also includes four world championship titles and an Olympic gold in the time trial, three victories each in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and Paris-Roubaix. In his two participations in the Giro in 2007 and 2009, however, he was unsuccessful in winning a stage or wearing the leader’s pink jersey.

The 9.8-kilometer opening time trial in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, on May 6 next year will give Cancellara a chance to add to his trophy chest before he retires after the 2016 season.

“I’ll race the Giro,” Cancellara said. “I’ve never worn pink and I still need it. It’s a goal for my last season.

“The yellow jersey in the Tour is the most prestigious, but perhaps the maglia rosa is the one with the most passion, the most emotion. And obviously, I come from an Italian background so it’s something that would mean a lot to me. In the past, I either didn’t have a chance to race the Giro or else I just went to ride and see it.”

His goal ties in well with the news that Italian coffee giant Segafredo will sponsor the American team in 2016 and for the following two years. With Cancellara, Segafredo will have guaranteed attention on its team and name for three weeks in May.

The remainder of Cancellara’s final season is still being determined. He will start in the Mallorca Challenge and will race the Dubai Tour and the Volta ao Algarve before returning to Italy for Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and the first monument, Milano-Sanremo on March 19.

Cancellara said he’s unsure if he will race the February 27 and 28 weekend in Belgium that includes Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

“I want to close out the year on top like in the last years, maybe not in 2015, when I had my share of bad luck,” added Cancellara.

“I always wanted to end my career on top. I had my motivation before, but now there are new sponsors, 2016 will be the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders, the Tour is visiting my home in Bern… There are 1,000 things. The first thing for me is the classics.

“It’s one goal at a time for me in 2016, given how my 2015 went. I hope to live off the emotion of the new sponsor and my final season, just to close my eyes and not think, like a first-year professorial without responsibilities.”

Cancellara took over the Tour’s yellow jersey after the second stage this year, but held it for less than 24 hours when a crash and fractured vertebrae forced him to abandon the race. A crash also ruled him out of the classics and a stomach flu ended his Vuelta a España in August.

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