Besides the crowds of cyclists lined up and gathering around the Trek Bicycle Superstore, the rest of the Kearney-Mesa shopping center on the night of April 27th would be a ghost town if not for the excitement vibrating from the bike shop. If you were looking for a person, the only place to look was at the Trek store where excitement vibrated in anticipation for the appearance of the man known as Spartacus, Fabian Cancellara. On this day, cyclists in California (and cyclists visiting) had the opportunity to ride with and meet the Olympic gold medalist and jersey wearing Swiss powerhouse. Local cyclists would get a full day of Fabian addition to this evening’s event, including a Spartacus-led coastal ride earlier in the day with local shop riders and contest winners. He kept up the energy leading into the evening
During the evening question and answer portion, Fabian revealed his down-to-earth personality – despite a record that is beyond the cosmos – and a lot about his character with respect to racing. When asked about his nickname “Spartacus”, Cancellara admitted he was slightly astonished that it carried over for as long as it did. As he told it, the nickname was given to him by an older racer in the early days of his career, who noticed his supportive nature and guidance to the young and less experienced riders. The man saw Cancellara as a fierce leader and made the association between the gladiator Spartacus and his guidance in the uprising against the Roman Republic. For years to come, fans and other riders would associate the nickname mostly for his prowess on the bike, like a gladiator gliding over the cobblestones to battle in Rome, but the name said more about his humility than fans would know. Regarding the young riders in the Peloton Fabien said, “…it’s important to take care of the young ones. We have to stick together.”
Spartacus received several questions regarding the Spring Classics and how he tackled the cobblestones, one of his most unique accomplishments. He said much of his success on the cobblestones was one part “good equipment and right air pressure” and another part is balance and comfort on the bike. He emphasized that too low of a gear, or too high of a cadence has a significant effect while riding the cobblestones, namely that you don’t want to jump over the cobblestones, “you need to have the balance, and then you fly.” Of his favorite spring classic, Cancellara revealed, “Paris-Roubaix is challenging, but Flanders has the slopes.” Cancellara’s 3 Tour of Flanders wins were some of the greatest Flanders finishes in the 21st century.
There were around 100 fans and cyclists admiring and enjoying him speak and reflect on his time in the Peloton and on the podium. He dedicated an hour and a half to answer questions that were submitted to the shop manager Mike Olsen, who hosted the event. The official “meet and greet” lasted 4 hours, so that everyone who wanted their merchandise signed, and a photo was taken with the superstar, could have it.
Fabian Cancellara’s time in San Diego was a comforting reassurance to fans who hoped that the velodrome in Gent, Belgium wasn’t the last time they would see him. Hearing him speak, it was clear that his passion for cycling hadn’t diminished, it was just being refocused. In the same way that he displayed discipline on the bike, he plans to apply that same hard work to the business and marketing side of the sport – he has even enrolled in college with plans to earn a degree. He talks about watching racing from the sidelines now with excitement and anticipation, perhaps with plans to be a commentator, but he doesn’t want to limit himself. We hope Cancellara continues to serve fans with his leadership skills and Swiss amicability, this sport needs all the personality it can get.