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Fabian Cancellara and his pursuit of Swiss perfection with Tudor Pro Cycling

Cobbles legend turns team owner with Swiss-based squad: 'We want to be precise. We want to be humble. We want to work properly on quality.'

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ABU DHABI (VN) – Watches, chocolate, cheese … and now after some hiatus, pro cycling.

Fabian Cancellara is looking to put pro cycling back on the list of Switzerland’s greatest exports with his Tudor Pro Cycling Team.

With the cobbles conqueror and Swiss sporting icon Cancellara in the owner’s chair and a full fondue of Swiss backers for leverage, Tudor Pro Cycling plans to tap into what makes the mountain nation great.

“‘Swiss’, ‘human’, and ‘performance’ are our values,” Cancellara told VeloNews at the UAE Tour this week. “And it’s not only Swiss people, it’s the way of Swiss. We want to be precise. We want to be humble. We want to work properly on quality. And we want to do things right.

“When things are not done right, things are not working – like a watch like this,” Cancellara said as he tapped the Tudor timepiece on his wrist.

Throwback Thursday: How Fabian Cancellara helped revive interest in the northern classics

Tudor Pro Cycling stepped up to the ProTeam level this season after years operating as the Conti squad Swiss Racing Academy.

With both a U23 and senior team in its structure, Cancellara’s crew is all about bringing new talent out of Switzerland. The nation currently counts just 10 active male pros.

“We want to win bike races. But we want to do it in the right way, in the way of the Swiss, and do it with the right direction,” Cancellara said. “But we need time for it because we’re still in a process of lifting things. But we have started, and that is most important.”

The fledgling Tudor team pulled some key signings for both its team bus and backroom this winter.

Alexander Kamp, Sebastian Reichenbach, and Simon Pellaud are among a handful of racers drawn out of the WorldTour, and Arvid de Kleijn brings big sprint opportunity after leaving Human Powered Health.

Ricardo Scheidecker adds wisdom to a staffer crew that averages 37 years of age after time working with Tinkoff, Leopard-Trek, and most recently as technical director at Quick-Step.

The now 41-year-old Cancellara stepped up to team owner last spring off the back of ties with squad CEO Raphael Meyer. The two work together on Cancellara’s “Chasing Cancellara” fondos and consultancy project.

“I first worked more as a mentor to support them, to help them to find partners, to find sponsors for bikes, and so on and so on,” Cancellara said.

“And then this opportunity came to come on this project to lock everything out, to make it so this team can happen, and to get to where we are today as a ProTeam.”

Swiss-engineered, with a human side

Tudor makes its WorldTour debut in the UAE.

Tudor’s boost to the second tier of pro cycling sees Switzerland back on the cycling team map for the first time since IAM Cycling shuttered under a sponsor squeeze in 2016.

The all-things Swiss project counts the Geneva-based watch brand as its headline partner alongside national brands Assos apparel, BMC bikes, and D.T. Swiss hubs.

Oh, and there’s a Swiss flag on the team’s apparel, just for good measure.

“We have a Swiss roster, but of course we’re international. But everything comes out from Switzerland – the plate on the cars, the service course in Switzerland – not only the license is Swiss,” Cancellara said. “We care about the Swiss.”

Switzerland sees strong representation in the cycling calendar with two marquee WorldTour races, and the nation has a long heritage of top teams.

But although Stefan Küng, Marc Hirschi, and Gino Mäder are all banging at the door, Switzerland still waits on its first big road cycling win since Cancellara retired on claiming Olympic gold in 2016.

Cancellara is looking to rectify that by inspiring young riders with his unashamedly Swiss squad.

“In Switzerland, we have Romandie and Tour de Suisse. And now after Team Phonak, BMC, and IAM, Tudor can do something for the country,” Cancellara said.

“We want to support and inspire others and our young riders, so they can make something out of it. And that’s why we keep the development structure.

“But at the same time, sorry, we’re not a social club. We’re here to perform, for results.”

Cancellara’s big Swiss vision saw a strong start to 2023. De Kleijn narrowly missed the podium in the UAE Tour’s opening bunch sprint, and Petr Kelemen and Joel Suter came close in the early French races.

The next months will see Tudor race through the Italian classics before it sees a season peak – where else – on Swiss soil.

“We have Romandie and Swiss on the program for later,” Cancellara said. “They’re our Tour de France.”

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