The Milano Torino is a single-day professional cycling event with a history stretching back to the 1870s — not long after the invention of the bicycle itself. When Arvid de Kleijn sprinted across the finish line at the 103rd event in March, it marked a win of the oldest race in the sport by one of its newest teams: Tudor Pro Cycling. Following a 2022 season that included 18 victories and 30 podiums for the fledgling team, Tudor Cycling is primed to continue its ascent into the sport’s highest echelons this year.
The man behind the success of Tudor Pro Cycling is Fabian Cancellara, a 42-year-old Swiss pro cyclist, three-time Olympic medalist, and the team’s owner. Nicknamed “Spartacus” for his imposing physique and reputation as a devoted team player, Cancellara has ascended to cycling’s greatest heights over a storied career that includes four world titles, and seven Monument Classic wins. With a team of 20 elite riders under his command — and the support of Swiss luxury watchmaker Tudor — he’s now hoping to make his homeland as dominant in cycling as it is in watchmaking.
“I’m like a Swiss clock,” Cancellara has said of his strengths as an athlete. “I know how to race against the clock, and, like all Swiss, I have a hard head — very hard.” This determination helped Cancellara become a world junior time trial champion in 1998 and again in 1999, before turning pro the next year.
By 2006, Cancellara was a rising star, winning the prestigious Paris-Roubaix before becoming the world time trial champion at the UCI Road World Championships in Salzburg. He would defend this title successfully the following year, cementing his reputation with a pair of stage wins at the Tour de France. In 2008, he reached a new level of success with a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics — a feat he would repeat at Rio in 2016, the final race of his professional career.
Cancellara retired from professional competition following the Rio Olympics, with a total of three Olympic medals, 21 Grand Tour stage wins, and 29 Tour de France yellow jerseys — the most held by any cyclist who hasn’t won the race itself. “I go to bike races to win,” Cancellara said at the time. “That’s why I push to the limit, because I want to win, I want to be the best, I want to beat everyone.”
A devotee of Swiss watchmaking long before he collaborated with Tudor, Cancellara is often seen riding with an automatic watch on his wrist — a bold statement in a sport where every gram counts. For the 2023 season, Cancellara and his team will be equipped with a special-edition Tudor Black Bay Chrono in the team’s dynamic red, black, and white livery, including a matching black and red woven strap. The watch is one of several pieces of high-end Swissmade equipment in the team’s kit, including Assos apparel, Suplest footwear, and the BMC SLR01 road bike, a $25,000 carbon-framed speed machine.
For 2023, Tudor Pro Cycling has successfully earned a spot on the UCI Pro circuit, the second-highest level in professional cycling, becoming the only Swiss pro cycling team in the sport. “We want to do it based on clear values,” says Raphael Meyer, the team’s CEO. “Those values are Swiss, human, and performance. For me, it’s being on time, being humble, and being focused. Performance is our goal, and we strongly believe that humility increases our chances of performance.”
Ahead of the Milano Torino in March, Tudor Pro Cycling kicked off its 2023 season with a top-10 finish by Petr Kelemen at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Marseille in January. The team followed these wins with another impressive showing in France, where Swiss-born Alexander Kamp achieved the top podium spot at the 69th Région Pays de la Loire Tour in April.
“It’s the right people and the right project,” says Cancellara, who is focused on building up the team for a spot in the UCI WorldTeam bracket for 2024, and a shot at the sport’s biggest prizes. “I raced bike races in my past to win. Today is the same, but we just started our team. I want to win bike races, but step by step.”