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Owain Doull: “I’d like to focus on the Northern Classics in the future”

Owain Doull

Like many of today’s riders, Owain Doull has started by doing something completely different than cycling, and that was rugby, which he played competitively as it is the biggest sport in Wales. One day, he decided to give it a go in the outdoor velodrome located just ten minutes from his home in Cardiff. From that moment on, everything came very natural and Owain rode on the track before giving it a go on the road and returning to the track, where he learnt a lot about bike handling, cadence and speed at a very young age. Then, after a couple of years of racing in Great Britain, he was picked up by the national squad for the U16 category and his promising career began.

Having won multiple national titles on the track, Owain Doull got the chance at some point to ride wih the big team and didn’t fail to impress, winning the European team pursuit title three years in a row and thus making an important step towards Rio de Janeiro, the venue of the 2016 Olympics. His results on the road were equally remarkable, with a string of top results to his name: the overall victory in the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, two stage wins in Flèche du Sud, the U23 national title and, more recently, third at the Tour of Britain, where he finished ahead of many well-known World Tour cyclists.

In 2014, while riding for An Post-Chain Reaction, Europcar noticed him and came up with an offer to turn pro, but the young Brit turned it down, admitting it wasn’t the best choice to develop his career. Instead, he preferred to sign a two-year contract with the newly created Team Wiggins, as it allowed him to pursue his both road and track careers. Next season, he’ll be completely focused on the latter of the two, with the ultimate goal of capturing the gold medal at the Olympic Games in the team pursuit event.

After Rio, he will turn his attention to the road, the young Welshman already securing a contract with an unnamed World Tour team. That will be the beginning of a new page in his career, as the now 22-year-old will get to experience some of the best races of the calendar, and especially the Classics, which he is very fond of, and thus continue his progression. But more on these topics, in the following interview, for which Owain Doull kindly made some time last week, although he has a very busy schedule in this time of the year.

– Owain, are you happy with your season and the way things went?

Yes, it’s been a good year. My main targets for the year were the U23 Nations Cup races, the British Championships and then the Tour of Britain and the U23 World Championships in Richmond. I trained hard for all of these and was in good form and performed consistently. I wanted to win one of the Nations Cup events after being close for the last two years, but I had bad luck in the U23 Flanders and finished tenth, I was then second at Côte Picarde and seventh overall at ZLM Tour. It’s true that I was consistent, but my goal was to win one, so I was disappointed with the outcome. Fortunately, I won the British U23 Road Championships and the Tour of Britain went well.

– So you made the right call last year when you decided not to turn pro with Europcar.

Indeed. Looking back now, deciding to not join Europcar was a good move. I was very fortunate that Team Wiggins came around as it gave me the opportunity to combine my road and track ambitions for 2015.

– Which of your road results was the most important for you and why?

The Tour of Britain is my most important result for sure. I had been performing at a good level all year winning stages in UCI 2.2 races and being up there on the general classification, but this was the first time that I had performed in a HC race and one of the calibre of the Tour of Britain. Also, to be racing at the sharp end of my home tour against some big names was pretty special and one I won’t forget, I took a lot of confidence from the performance and it showed that I can be competitive at a high level in cycling.

– Did you expect to have such a solid run in the Tour of Britain?

I wanted to do well and it was one of my main targets of the year and also the biggest race of the year for myself and the team. I went to Livigno for an altitude camp beforehand and trained hard. I was hoping to come perform well on a few stages but to come out of it third overall, winning the points jersey and being in the top 10 on every stage except one was more than I could have imagined.

– Is there any regret you have after your 2015 road campaign?

My biggest regret was the U23 World Championships, because coming out of the Tour of Britain I knew I had good form to get a result. I rode the time trial as a bit of a hit out before the road race and I placed fifth which was more than I was expecting and showed I was still going well. On the day though I had no luck: I crashed twice and had two mechanicals. I went into the race as a favourite and finished 92nd. I was really disappointed afterwards as this was a race I had been dreaming about winning all year and to come away with nothing was pretty depressing.

– What would you say are your strong points at this moment?

I’d go with my consistency, I’m fortunate that I can perform on most terrain which means I am always going for a result. This year I had over 30 top 10 places in UCI races. On the other hand, this can also be a weakness as I’m not great in one area so maybe for the future I need to concentrate on one specific area of my riding.

Owain Doull 2

– And what is it that you still want to improve?

My sprinting is probably the area I need to improve on the most. Like I said, I’m good across a lot of different terrains so I can usually be contesting the win, but I just need to become a bit faster so I can actually win the race.

– After scoring very good results in one-day and stage races alike, on which of these would you like to focus?

On the road I would love to focus on the one day Northern Classics in the future. These are the races that excite me the most and have grown up dreaming of winning. I think as a rider these are also the races that suit me the most.

– You also had some impressive exploits on the track, and one of the most recent was taking gold medal in the team pursuit race at the European Championships.

It was pretty special to win in Grenchen. It was my third European Team pursuit title in a row so it was nothing new, but to do it with such a strong team and in a quick time was really motivating for the future.

– Did it made you more confident for next year’s Olympics, where Team GB will go for another title?

For sure, we did a 3:55 in the European Championships and we could have gone quicker in the final if we had ridden it differently, which bodes well for Rio. The whole team is focused towards Rio and nothing else.

– Besides the track, what’s 2016 looking like for you?

The whole focus for 2016 is Rio and nothing else. Everything I do between now and Rio is focused towards winning the gold medal. Obviously, I will race on the road throughout 2016 as preparation for the Olympic Games. I am very fortunate that we have such a great race program with Team Wiggins and so I can do some nice races next year like the Tour of Dubai and the Tour of California. Then, the plan is to stop the track completely after Rio and focus 100% on the road to see how far I can progress on that.


Matej Mohoric: Ready for a new adventure in 2016

Former Junior and Under 23 World Champion, Matej Mohoric has decided to leave Cannondale-Garmin after his second pro season and join Italian outfit Lampre-Merida on a two-year contract. Just 21-years-old, the Slovenian remains one of the most promising young riders of the peloton, and although he didn’t manage to add a win to his name since joining the World Tour ranks, the general consensus is that a breakthrough result will come very soon.

During his tenure with the US-based team, Mohoric has had his ups and downs: he raced the Ardennes Classics, but later in the season experienced a nagging elbow injury, before making his debut in the Vuelta a España, his first Grand Tour. Unfortunately, Matej’s adventure came to a sudden end, as he had to abandon during the first week, when he fell ill. On the bright side, his season didn’t stop there, as he came back for one final event in the argyle kit, the Japan Cup, where he showed some promising signs, by finishing sixth at the end of a hard race.

Next season could turn out to be an important one for the Lampre-Merida cyclist, who will continue to build on what he achieved so far in order to fulfill the expectations he has set up for himself when turning pro. Tough he is adamant that his future lies primarily in the tough one-day races, the talented Slovenian is ready to tackle also a couple of short stage races as he feels that these could help him improve and score a big coup at some point.

Regardless of what will happen, Matej Mohoric will take it one step at a time and not rush into things, knowing that patience will eventually pay dividends. Of these and many more, you can read in the following interview, which he gave to Cafe Roubaix in November.

– Matej, looking back on your season, how was it?

I think 2015 was a good year for me. I didn’t get any great results yet, but I am definitely one step closer to becoming a good cyclist. I gained a lot of experience and became physically stronger. I improved a lot, and my body weight has gone a little bit down with absolutely no loss of power. Also, now I cope better with the distance of the races and I can train more intense and for longer periods.

– How did you find this year compared to your first in the World Tour?

I have found my second season to be much easier, especially from a physical point of view. My body has adapted well to the demands of pro racing. I also believe that the experience one gets from the races he has already done in the past helps as well. Overall, I am satisfied with 2015.

– Was there something you didn’t like or which you felt doesn’t go as you expected?

To be honest, I expected for things to go worse. I thought it was going to be more like my first year in the pro ranks. However, I didn’t like that I got sick in the Vuelta a España and had to pull out the following day. Actually, that was my most disappointing moment of the year. At the other end, the Österreich Rundfahrt was the highlight of the season for me. I liked it a lot: it’s really beautiful, close to home and with a lot of climbs.

– Why did you leave Cannondale-Garmin and why did you pick Lampre-Merida?

I had a great time in the Cannondale-Garmin team. It is a great squad, with many nice people, but the time has come for me to change teams. I like some things about Lampre-Merida more. The two teams are different, but it is impossible to say which is better.

– Was it important for you to be back in an European team, and especially an Italian one?

Logistically, it doesn’t make any difference. After all, I have never been overseas in 2015 with the US team, whereas in 2014 I have spent three months in the States and two months in Australia, all these while being part of an Italian team. It does make a bit of difference in the mentality though. I did fit in well in both teams, so I don’t think cultural differences are a problem for me.

– Did you talk to the management of your new team?

Yes, I did. They expect me to do my best and perform well in the races I’ll go to. I have my personal goals that are more related to small things in training, not so much to the results I score in the races. I will deal with the results once I will be fit enough to really be there in a race’s finale.

– Are there any particular races you’d like to do in 2016?

I like Liège–Bastogne–Liège. I would also like to try Strade Bianche and do a Grand Tour again, finishing it this time. Last season showed me that tough one-day races are best suited to my characteristics, but I think I could do well also in short stage races.


Sindre Lunke, guest of the week at Cafe Roubaix

No one can’t argue that Norway is a real cradle of talent, which in the past years has supplied the World Tour with a lot of fascinationg prospects, from Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff, to Sondre Holst Enger, Sven Erik Bystrøm and Kristoffer Skjerping. Next year, a new generation of Norwegian talents will make its debut in the pro ranks, and one of the most interesting young riders to watch out for will be 22-year-old Sindre Lunke.

Hailing from Trondheim, he raced in 2015 with Team Joker and managed to confirm the strong results he scored one year earlier and take things to a whole new level. During this past season, Sindre finished in the top 10 in two of the most toughest stage races of the U23 calendar – Giro della Valle d’Aosta (8th) and Tour de l’Avenir (7th) – which offered a tantalising glimpse into what to expect later in his career. These important results he delivered didn’t go unnoticed, and they were followed by a World Tour contract that the young Norwegian was dreaming of for some time.

So, as it goes, Sindre Lunke signed a two-year contract with Giant-Alpecin, a team which made a name for itself from the development of young cyclists, a team which he sees as the perfect environment to thrive and to continue his improvement. Recently, after the squad’s first meeting ahead of 2016, Sindre made some time to talk for Cafe Roubaix about his season, as well as the challenges and joys of chasing a career in pro cycling.

– Sindre, how did your career in cycling began?

I started cycling when I was 15-years-old. My dad rides his bike very often, so I got inspired by him. He was cycling every day, from home and to work, despite bad weather conditions, and showed he is a really tough guy. When it is winter in Trondheim, the conditions can be really bad, and with mountain bike and spikes on the tyres, it is hard and can be dangerous at some times. But I saw that it was possible to ride the bike every day, no matter the weather, and this got me going.

– What do you remember from your first years?

Together with my dad I began taking short trips on my mountain bike, and later that year I finally got my first road bike and joined the local club, the Trondheim Velociped Club. I met a very motivated leader, called “Terje Tho”. This guy was one of the most important persons I have ever met, and he helped me develop as a rider, thanks to a very good training schedule and back-up on trainings. He organized the team as it was a Continental one, and we rode some UCI races in Croatia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It was very hard to compete against good Continental teams in Croatia when I was a first year senior, but overall it was very good experience and I’ve learned a lot from it.

– Besides climbing, what other strong points would you say you have at this moment?

As you said, my strongest side is climbing and my engine is big, so I think I can make some progress in time trials, if I find a good position on the bike and train more for it. You have to be good in time trials if you want do develop as a good general classification rider.

– In the past seasons, you scored many strong results. Which was the most important for you?

I think the most significant result for me was to finish fifth in the general classification of the Giro della Valle d’Aosta, in 2014. That was my debut race for the U23 Norwegian team, and I showed that I was doing well in long mountains and hard stage races.

– What meant for you to finish the 2015 Tour de l’Avenir in the top ten?

This year’s Tour de l’Avenir was really hard! It was almost full gas on every mountain stage, so I am happy for my seventh place on the GC. Of course, it was a disappointing last stage of the race, when I began on fourth place in the overall standings and aimed for the top three. I didn’t have a good rhythm, couldn’t find the right pace and I wasn’t so smart when Gregor Mühlberger and Sam Oomen attacked before Lacets de Montvernier. Then I got a technical on the top of the hill and had to wait for the car, so I lost a lot of time there. But that’s cycling.

– As an U23 cyclist, you also raced against the pros in some races. How was it to see you can mix it up with them and even finish ahead of many?

In some events I raced against many pros together with Team Joker, but this year in L’Avenir it was a new rule that pros under the age of 23 could also participate. It was a good feeling that I could fight and do well against them, and even finish ahead of some. If you get a confirmation that you can do a good GC in the Tour de l’Avenir, you can also do well sometimes when you ride against the pro peloton. Just look at this year’s winner, Marc Soler, who scored a couple of good results in some races this season.

– In 2016 you’ll turn pro with Giant-Alpecin. What’s the story of this transfer?

Well, after L’Avenir I was a bit disappointed and thought that my chance was gone. I got in touch with Aike Visbeek and asked if the roster is full for next year. They were interested in me and after that, I talked to Sports Director Marc Reef, when I went to Belgium with Team Joker, and by doing this I got to know more of the way the team is organized. I felt that this team had good ambitions for the future and I liked the way they develop young riders. I had to wait a bit before they did the selection, so I thought that they did not want to choose me, but when I got the phone call from Marc Reef with the confirmation that they wanted to sign me, I got goosebumps. For two nights after I got the message I couldn’t sleep almost at all and did not believe that it was true. It was really hard to keep it a secret also from friends. So when the signing was made public, it really was a relief.

– How was the first meeting with the team?

The first gathering took place in Deventer, in the Netherlands, where I met almost the whole team and all the staff members. I was nervous before the first reunion, but it was really easy to talk to everybody. Everyone talks good English and it was a lot of new faces to get to know. It was as big as I expected to be and it was really impressive to see all the staff members and how much planning there is to do in a World Tour team, but I liked it a lot, and with many meetings, photo shoots, bike fitting and so on, the days went fast. We had a lot of fun after the meetings also, so I am really looking forward to the first training camp and to get to know the boys better.

– Did you get to talk about the expectations they have from you in the first season?

I had a meeting with the coaches and talked about how things work in a World Tour team. They have a good strategy for developing young riders and they have shown that with both Warren Barguil and Tom Dumoulin. I think the race program looks very interesting and it includes a lot of exciting races. I will keep on improving my climbing, but the most important improvement I have to make is in the time trial, as I want to be a very good all-rounder.

– And how about you? What are your hopes and goals?

My hopes and goals for 2016 are to become better in the mountains and hills, and also to support the team’s leaders and do a good job. I think the first races will be very hard, but I think the way of racing in the World Tour suits me a lot, as there’s a lot of climbing there. I also want to try a Grand Tour – Vuelta a España would be a strong option – but I have to see how my body reacts after the races in the spring. Long-term, I want to be a strong GC contender for a Grand Tour. It is, of course, a big step, but I like long stage races with many mountains and I think these suit me. I would love to win a hard mountain stage in a Grand Tour, and a good fit would be the Giro d’Italia, which looks fantastic.

Riders’ schedule in the 2016 season

Julian Alaphilippe: Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

Fabio Aru: Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Tour de France.

Romain Bardet: Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Tour de Romandie, Tour de France.

Tom Boonen: Tour de San Luis, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, World Championships.

Nacer Bouhanni: Paris-Nice, Milan-Sanremo, Tour de France, World Championships.

Fabian Cancellara: Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish: Milan-Sanremo, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour de France, World Championships.

Sylvain Chavanel: Paris-Nice, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Tour de France.

Alberto Contador: Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Criterium du Dauphiné, Tour de France, Olympic Games, Vuelta a España.

Rui Costa: Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Tour de France.

Damiano Cunego: Amstel Gold Race, Giro d’Italia, Milano-Torino, Il Lombardia.

John Degenkolb: Milan-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Tour de France, World Championships.

Rohan Dennis: National Championships, Tour of California, Tour de France, Olympic Games.

Joe Dombrowski: Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Tour du Haut Var, Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie, Giro d’Italia.

Caleb Ewan: National Championships, Tour Down Under, Herald Sun Tour.

Chris Froome: Herald Sun Tour, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, Criterium du Dauphiné, Tour de France, Olympic Games.

Simon Gerrans: National Championships, Tour Down Under, Herald Sun Tour, Amstel Gold Race, Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

Robert Gesink: Amstel Gold Race, Giro d’Italia, Olympics Games.

Philippe Gilbert: Vuelta a Murcia, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

Jack Haig: National Championships, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Herald Sun Tour.

Adam Hansen: Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España.

Roman Kreuziger: Tirreno-Adriatico, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Tour de France.

Alexander Kristoff: Tour of Qatar, Tour of Oman, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Paris-Nice, Milan-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Three Days of De Panne, Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of France, Arctic Race of Norway, Tour des Fjords, Eneco Tour, World Championships.

Michal Kwiatkowski: Strade Bianche, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

Mikel Landa: Tirreno-Adriatico, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Gido d’Italia.

Rafal Majka: Tour de San Luis, Tour of Croatia, Giro d’Italia.

Daniel Martin: Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Il Lombardia.

Louis Meintjes: Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Tour de France.

Sacha Modolo: Milan-Sanremo, Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, World Championships.

Matej Mohoric: Strade Bianche, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Giro d’Italia.

Daniel Moreno: Tour de San Luis, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

Gianni Moscon: Challenge Mallorca, Dubai Tour, Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali, Giro del Trentino, Tour of California.

Vincenzo Nibali: Tour de San Luis, Tour of Oman, Strade Bianche, Gran Premio Industria e Commercio di Prato, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, Giro del Trentino, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Giro d’Italia, Österreich Rundfahrt, Tour de Pologne, Olympic Games, Il Lombardia.

Nairo Quintana: Tour de San Luis, Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Tour de Romandie, Tour de France, Olympic Games, Vuelta a España.

Matteo Pelucchi: Tour Down Under, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, Tour of Turkey, Giro d’Italia, World Championships.

Richie Porte: Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, Tour de France.

Joaquim Rodriguez: Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Tour de France, Vuelta a España.

Peter Sagan: Tour de San Luis, Milan-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Tour de France, World Championships.

Toms Skujiņš: Challenge Mallorca, Tour de Haut Var, Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, Criterium International, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Tour of California, Ster ZLM Toer.

Ian Stannard: Milan-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix.

Peter Stetina: Tour Down Under, Tour of California, Tour de France, Olympic Games.

Andrew Talansky: Tour de San Luis, Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice.

Diego Ulissi: Tour Down Under, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Giro d’Italia.

Greg Van Avermaet: E3 Harelbeke, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Tour de France.

Alejandro Valverde: Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Olympic Games, Clasica San Sebastian.

Sep Vanmarcke: E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix.

Simon Yates: Paris-Nice, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Tour de France.

Pavel Sivakov: “I want to win a UCI race in 2016”

Pavel Sivakov

It was no surprise Pavel Sivakov decided to pursue a career in cycling, considering that his mother was a two-time team time trial world champion, while his father, Alexei, raced for many years a pro, riding all three Grand Tours. In 2009, after having tried his luck first in football, basketball, tennis and judo, Pavel eventually decided to switch to cycling and began his adventure with Saint-Gaudens – a local club – where he raced twice in that season, before having a more consistent program one year later, when he got to do eigth events.

Those seasons didn’t go as Pavel Sivakov had hoped, but he wasn’t distressed by this and took every race as a leaning curve, working relentlessly in order to make his dream come true. As a result, in 2011, the young Russian hit top form and won almost all races which he started. From that moment on, he became a prominent figure on the Junior scene and made a name for himself, the climax of his career so far coming this year, when he won Oberösterreich Juniorenrundfahrt and the Tour of Flanders, both results offering a tantalising glimpse into what to expect later in his career.

Of course, these victories did not go unnoticed and they helped the 18-year-old land a contract with BMC Development, one of the best U23 teams of the peloton. Here, Pavel Sivakov hopes to keep improving and show his potential from the first season in stage races and Classics alike, as he already has the necessary foundations. But more about his future goals and his take on the 2015 season, in the following interview.

– Pavel, this was your last season in the Junior ranks. Looking behind, are you happy with the way things went?

I’m satisfied of both seasons spent in the Junior category, although unfortunately I had an important injury in both years: the collarbone in 2014 and the knee this year, after a big crash. I won UCI races from my first year, like Ronde des Vallées and I was really satisfied with my second place at the Grand Prix Rüebliland, where the level was very strong. Following that result, I became more aware of the fact that I could be one of the strongest riders of 2015. This year I had a good summer with Avia W-Cup, I did three UCI races with them, won two of these and was third in another one, so I can’t be disappointed. I have to thank them for this great experience! Also, on top of all these results, I became time trial national champion.

– Were you expecting to have such a strong year, especially considering you crashed in the Spring, and as a consequence missed the Peace Race?

Because of that crash in the Spring I missed the Peace Race, Trophée Centre Morbihan and Tour du Pays de Vaud. It was a big disappointment, as I was in really good shape just one week before the Peace Race, and to miss all these races was very difficult!

– Which of the two big races you’ve won – Oberösterreich Juniorenrundfahrt and Tour of Flanders – was the most important for you?

I would say the Tour of Flanders, it’s always special and amazing to win a big Belgian race. But my win in Austria was important too, because I showed that I can climb well and this made me more confident in myself.

– Were you surprised by your victory in Flanders?

I wasn’t really surprised, because I was in a really good shape, I was just surprised to see that I’m good on cobbled hills.

– I know that the World Championships were a big goal for you. Are you disappointed with the way things went there?

Yes, the Worlds was a big goal this season, but my preparation didn’t go as I expected, and as a result I went to the US without being in good shape and didn’t feel well at all. I must say that also the European Championships were a disappointment for me, considering I had a 15-second advantage in the time trial with three kilometers to go and I lost it all in the finale. I didn’t manage my effort as I should have. On the other hand, these two experiences were very valuable lessons for my career, because you can’t progress without learning from your mistakes.

– Do you feel that living in France has had a major role in your development?

I’m sure it is very important, firstly because I live in the Pyrenees and it’s a really nice place for training. Also, here I have more opportunities to progress than in Russia. Another thing is that I’m flawless in French and to know different languages always helps you in sport and day-to-day life.

– It’s still very early, but your results so far hint to a career as a GC rider. Do you agree? Or do you believe you could mix stage races with the Classics?

I must say that I like stage races, I have a good recovery and I’m a complet rider. I’m a little bit heavy for being a good climber, but if I’m in good shape I can follow the pure climbers if the ascents aren’t very steep and only 9-10 km long. I also think that doing both stage races and Classics is the path I have to follow in my career.

– What races would you like to win as a pro?

If I become a pro cyclist, I really want to notch a Monument, it doesn’t really matter which one. Grand Tours are also a big dream of mine, but I don’t really think these races are suited to me.

– What’s the story of your transfer to BMC Development?

In my opinion, BMC is one of best U23 teams, and at the beginning of the season my dream was to be part of a big team, such as BMC Development. I’m really motivated for my first season in the U23 ranks, I will ride races with guys who are three years older than me, but for me is doesn’t matter, as I’m sure that if I have a good preparation, I can fight for victory in the big races. My goal is to win a UCI race or take a stage in a UCI race.


2015 Season Stats

– Fabio Aru is the sole rider to have finished on the podium in two Grand Tours (second in Giro d’Italia and first in Vuelta a España)

– The only cyclist to win two Monuments is John Degenkolb (Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix)

– Alejandro Valverde finished first in the World Tour standings for the fourth time in his career, a new record; Movistar won the team classification, while Spain topped the nations standings

– Alexander Kristoff landed 20 victories, the most of any rider throughout the season

– Etixx-Quick Step took the most wins in 2015 – 50 – while Sky has the most World Tour victories, 19

– LottoNL-Jumbo is the team with the fewest wins in the past season: 6

– Of the top two divisions teams, only Colombia-Coldeportes failed to take a victory

– Martijn Keizer is the riders with the most racing days in 2015: 99

– Astana, BMC, Katusha, Lampre-Merida and Sky are the five teams which scored at least a stage success in each of the three Grand Tours

– Europcar is the Pro Continental team with the most World Tour wild cards: 16

– 26 neo-pros notched a victory in 2015: Scott Ambrose, Carlos Barbero, Thomas Boudat, Emanuel Buchmann, Caleb Ewan, Alexander Foliforov, Dylan Groenewegen, Sondre Holst Enger, Quentin Jauregui, Brenton Jones, Ilia Koshevoy, Stefan Küng, Pierre-Roger Latour, Miguel Angel Lopez, Lorrenzo Manzin, Jakub Mareczko, Nicolas Marini, Dan McLay, Oliver Naesen, Luka Pibernik, Leszek Plucinski, Marc Sarreau, Robin Stenuit, Mike Teunissen, Anthony Turgis and Eugert Zhupa

Best race of the 2015 season

2016 Tour de France

Stage 1 – Mont-Saint-Michel-Utah Beach, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont – 188 km (July 2nd)

Stage 2 – Saint Lô-Cherbourg-Octeville – 182 km (July 3rd)

Stage 3 – Grenville-Angers – 222 km (July 4th)

Stage 4 – Saumur-Limoges – 232 km (July 5th)

Stage 5 – Limoges-Le Lioran – 216 km (July 6th)

Stage 6 – Arpajon-sur-Cère-Montauban – 187 km (July 7th)

Stage 7 – L’Isle-Jourdain-Lac de Payolle – 162 km (July 8th)

Stage 8 – Pau-Bagnères-de-Luchon – 183 km (July 9th)

Le Tour 2016 Bagnères-de-Luchon

Stage 9 – Vielha Val d’Aran-Andorre Arcalis – 184 km (July 10th)

Le Tour 2016 Andorra Arcalis

Stage 10 – Escaldes-Engordany-Revel – 198 km (July 12th)

Stage 11 – Carcassone-Montpellier – 164 km (July 13th)

Stage 12 – Montpellier-Mont Ventoux – 185 km (July 14th)

Stage 13 – Bourg Saint-Andréol-La Caverne du Pont d’Arc – 37 km (July 15th)

Le Tour 2016 La Caverne du Pont-d'Arc

Stage 14 – Montélimar-Villars-les-Dombes – 208 km (July 16th)

Stage 15 – Bourg-en-Bresse-Culoz – 159 km (July 17th)

Le Tour 2016 Culoz

Stage 16 – Moirans-en-Montagne–Berne – 206 km (July 18th)

Stage 17 – Berne-Finhaut-Emosson – 184 km (July 20th)

Le Tour 2016 Finhaut-Emosson

Stage 18 – Sallanches-Megève – 17 km (July 21st)


Stage 19 – Albertville-Saint-Gervais-Mont Blanc – 146 km (July 22nd)

Le Tour 2016 Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc

Stage 20 – Saint-Gervais-les-Bains-Morzine – 146 km (July 23rd)

Le Tour 2016 Morzine

Stage 21 – Chantilly-Paris Champs-Élysées – 113 km (July 24th)

Best neo-pro of the 2015 season

Retired World Tour and Pro Continental riders in 2015

Name Age Team Best result of the season
Ivan Basso 37 Tinkoff-Saxo 17th in Gran Premio di Lugano
Giovanni Bernaudeau 32 Europcar 2nd in Tropicale Amissa Bongo
Hilton Clarke 36 UnitedHealthcare ――――――――――
Kevin De Weert 33 LottoNL-Jumbo 47th in stage 1 of Volta ao Algarve
Aleksandr Dyachenko 32 Astana 5th in stage 7 of Tour of Hainan
Jimmy Engoulvent 35 Europcar 4th in Tro-Bro Leon
Cadel Evans 37 BMC 3rd in Tour Down Under
Campbell Flakemore 23 BMC 4th at the National Championships
Robert Förster 37 UnitedHealthcare 7th in stage 4 of Tour de Slovenie
Davide Frattini 37 UnitedHealthcare 24th in stage 1 of World Ports Classic
John Gadret 36 Movistar 7th in stage 6 of Criterium du Dauphiné
Anthony Geslin 35 FDJ 8th in Paris-Camembert
Florian Guillou 32 Bretagne-Séché 25th in stage 2 of Tropicale Amissa Bongo
Ken Hanson 33 UnitedHealthcare 5th in stage 4 of Tour de Langkawi
Ted King 32 Cannondale-Garmin 12th at the National Championships
Alexander Kolobnev 34 Katusha 26th in Le Samyn
Pablo Lastras 39 Movistar 25th in stage 4 of Tour Down Under
Klaas Lodewyck 27 BMC 6th in Handzame Classic
Maxime Mederel 35 Europcar 19th in Criterium International
Daan Olivier 22 Giant-Alpecin 18th in Vuelta a Murcia
Alessandro Petacchi 41 Southeast 4th in stage 8 of Tour of Turkey
Andrea Piechiele 28 Bardiani 2nd in stage 7 of Tour of Turkey
Jérome Pineau 35 IAM Cycling 8th in stage 1B of Ruta del Sol
Thomas Raeymaekers 22 Novo Nordisk ――――――――――
Hayden Roulston 34 Trek Factory Racing 21st in Cadel Evans Road Race
Cristiano Salerno 30 Bora-Argon 18 22nd in stage 4 of Criterium du Dauphiné
Gert Steegmans 34 Trek Factory Racing 13th in stage 1 of Tour of Oman
Simon Strobel 29 Novo Nordisk 42nd in stage 2 of Volta do Rio Grande do Sul
James Vanlandschoot 37 Wanty-Groupe Gobert 7th in stage 3 of Tour de Luxembourg
Arthur Vanoverberghe 25 Topsport Vlaanderen 21st in Grand Prix La Marseillaise
Jussi Veikkanen 34 FDJ 2nd at the National Championships
Romain Zingle 28 Cofidis ――――――――――

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