Fabian Cancellara hails Team Sky as positive force and challenges rivals to ‘work harder or be smarter’

Team Sky have won four of the past five grand tours, and six of the past seven Tours de France stretching back to Bradley Wiggins' 2012 triumph

Lawrence Ostlere
Thursday 18 October 2018 14:16
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Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome on the Tour de France podium in July
Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome on the Tour de France podium in July

Fabian Cancellara has praised Team Sky as positive force both in cycling and in British life, and has called on their rivals to “work harder or be smarter” to break their dominance.

Team Sky have won four of the past five grand tours, and six of the past seven Tours de France stretching back to Bradley Wiggins’ 2012 triumph. This year’s edition was won by Geraint Thomas with his teammate Chris Froome finishing third as Sky dominated most of the action in the peloton.

Sky are estimated to have an annual budget of around £30m, significantly more than their rivals. Their control of major races has been criticised by some fans for creating a boring spectacle, while world cycling president David Lappartient declared in August that “something needs to change”, adding: “The problem in cycling isn’t doping anymore, it’s money.”

But the Swiss cycling legend Cancellara, who retired in 2016 with a stacked palmares including four world titles and two Olympic golds, believes it is up to the rest of the sport to find a way to compete.

“Team Sky has the best team, they do the most not only with riders but behind with training, research, mental, physical – they’re just ahead of the other ones,” Cancellara told The Independent. “It’s just too easy to point at them.

“I think [Sky’s impact on the sport] is definitely positive. The other ones have to work harder or be smarter. Because someone has more money it doesn’t mean they always have to be the strongest. It’s too easy to point at them, because if someone is good then everyone points. that’s normal.”

Cancellara is working to harness the power of cyling alongside Laureus, an organisation which uses the power of sport to change lives in projects around the world, and he believes that Sky have played an influential role in Britain embracing two wheels both competitively and in day-to-day life.

“Team Sky has given for sure in the UK a lot of new cycling fans,” he said,. “We should thank Team Sky because it’s another country that are into it – ‘two-wheeled people’. How many people are riding a bicycle in UK? Whether it’s Thomas, Froome, Wiggo [Bradley Wiggins], Cav [Mark Cavendish], Chris Hoy, the Yates brothers – there is a movement from before, when there were only [Chris] Boardman, [David] Millar, there weren’t so many.

“Now we have the UK [cycling], it is huge, and for the health of the UK it’s something nice. Maybe there is not the cycling culture like in Italy, France or Belgium, but I’m happy with more people riding a bike. That’s the most important thing, for me.”

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