Blazin' Saddles

Kangaroo court for Cancellara

Blazin' Saddles

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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.

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FILE -In this Aug. 23, 2009 file picture Fabian Cancellara, Swiss bicycle racer, is photographed at the openair cycling track Zuerich-Oerlikon in Zur
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.

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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...

 

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