Blazin' Saddles: Kangaroo court for Cancellara
It's that time of year again as scores of conspiracy theorists stretch their blogging fingers and prepare themselves for the latest round of Cancellara bashing.
This annual event usually follows the Swiss Spartacus's total domination in the spring classics as Big Fab eats up the cobbles as he would Weetabix for breakfast.
Last year we had Davide Cassani's "so stupid I'm speechless" claims that Cancellara had concealed a motor inside the frame of his bike, allowing him to power ahead of Tom Boonen in Flanders and everyone else on the way to Roubaix.
And this year we have already had the suggestion that the Leopard Trek powerhouse uses an intricate contraption of "Gold Race" ball bearings to gain up to 2.5 seconds a kilometre -- and all this just to win a time trial, something he could do even on a BMX while dressed up as a Gladiator.
What next -- that Cancellara's large chin is in fact a solar panel on which he draws reserves of energy when under the cosh?
The truth of the matter is that Fabian Cancellara is simply heads and shoulders above his rivals in every area. In fact, it's a surprise a popular anti-dandruff shampoo brand haven't come calling (not that his lush mane needs performance enhancing of any kind, thick and glossy as it already is).
Forget Three Days of De Panne -- we're about to witness Eight Days of Fabian.
But it has to be said that the pressure is on Cancellara and his new Leopard Trek team. One time trial victory, a dominant GP E3 Harelbeke ("the most intense thing I've seen in my career," according to Stijn Devolder) and Andy Schleck's Criterium International crown is nevertheless scant rewards for a team so expensively assembled and carrying such lofty ambitions.
That said, it's like judging Bjarne Riis' new-look Saxo Bank before any of the Major Tours, where the team's star rider Alberto Contador -- providing he manages to scupper appeals by both the UCI and WADA -- should be amongst the favourites.
You see, no-one needs to be told that the next fortnight is made for Cancellara as much as chocolate is made for the Easter Bunny (or James Corden). So dominant is Cancellara over the cobbles that his name has to be tarnished with outlandish claims of motoring to victory (if ever there was a hidden compliment, there it is).
Yet Boonen will be buoyed by his Gent-Wevelgem win, while the likes of Gilbert, Pozzato and even Sagan cannot be discounted -- although it must be said, thoroughbred Cancellara is the Black Caviar or Sea The Stars of his generation. To beat him, the whole peloton is going to have to gang up and wear him out -- which is a bit like asking a bunch of humans to get together in numbers in order to outsprint a cheetah.
With the tag of favourite comes added expectation, however -- and given the fact that Leopard Trek's season starts proper this Sunday, it will be riveting to see if Cancellara can keep his trademark cool and hold the Kangaroo Court at bay.
Talking of bouncy legged marsupials, Saddles -- currently undergoing his own tour Down Under etc and so forth -- spent a large chunk of last week on the remote Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia's Cape Jervis and the Fleurieu Peninsula near Adelaide.
There aren't enough superlatives to describe the awe-inspiring experience your humble cycling blogger had in his time on KI -- and it certainly did give him some food for thought.
If, in the future, professional cycling races actually take off in Australia, then there would be huge scope for a one-day classic-style race on the island. The Kangaroo Klassic would have everything: stunning landscapes, punchy climbs, dicey roads and a weather system that spans all four seasons on a daily basis.
What's more, instead of the cobbles of Flanders or north France, the riders would have to do battle with the corrugated dirt tracks that make up most of the island's ramshackle road system, complete with pot-holes and muddy puddles.
And the likes of David Millar, Mick Rogers, Linus Gerdemann and other canine colliders wouldn't have to worry about unleashed dogs running in their way: rather, they'd have to keep their eyes peeled for roos, wallabies, koalas and possums -- not to mention echidnas, whose sharp quills could cause a fair few punctures.
What do you think? Have you been to Kangaroo Island and do you reckon it could host a good cycling race? Where else do you think there's scope for a one-day classic around the world? Join the debate -- and abuse Saddles -- below...
Ever since he was bullied by his brothers into watching the Tour de France as an eight-year-old, Blazin' Saddles has been a cycling fanatic. As persistent as Voigt, as fast as Abdoujaparov, as voracious as Ullrich and as accurate as a Festina watch, Blazin' Saddles offers a lighter take on the oft-grave world of professional cycling. The self-styled best cycling-blog pedlar in the business, BS refutes sullied claims of doping levelled by his rivals: these nuggets are powered on Gerolsteiner fizzy water alone. Just ask BS's friend Bernhard Kohl for a reference.