Born to an Italian mother and a Swiss-German father, cyclist Fabian Cancellara has worn the Tour de France yellow jersey for a record 28 days without winning cycling’s most coveted prize.
He discovered cycling as a teenager, and by the time he was 17, he had already won the World Junior Time Trial Championships on two occasions. He then turned professional after finishing second in the 2000 U-23 World Time Trial Championships.
During his two seasons with Team Mapei-Quick Step, Cancellara used his time trialing skills to great effect, winning several time trials and stage stages to claim 11 victories.
In 2003, he joined joined the Fassa Bortolo team to work as a lead-out man for Alessandro Petacchi, but the Swiss rider’s break-out season was undoubtedly 2004. He won the prologue at the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey for two stages, but also won an individual time trial at the Tour de Luxembourg and sprints at the Tour of Qatar and Setmana Catalana.
After coming third at the World Time Trial Championships in 2005, he joined Team CSC the following year. His excellence on time trials started to pay dividends as he won his first World Time Trial Championships as well as numerous other short events.
Another World time Trial title was added in 2007, but Cancellara missed the event in 2008 citing mental fatigue after the Beijing Olympics. In Beijing, he dominated the time trial to win the gold medal, and was given a silver medal after second place finisher Davide Rebellin was stripped of his medal. Cancellara was named the Swiss Male Athlete of the Year after his Olympic heroics.
During the following years, Cancellara showed why he is regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, winning the World Time trials twice more, along with several other races including his third Tour de France Prologue in 2010.
The Swiss struggled with form in 2011 and suffered an injury during the Tour of Flanders that ruled him out of competition until the Tour de France, where he won another Tour prologue and managed to lead the race for the first seven stages. He subsequently withdrew from the race after the 11th stage to support his wife before the birth of their second child.