Alexandr Pliuschin: A new start, in Azerbaijan
The beginning of 2014 found Alexandr Pliuschin riding for Sky Dive Dubai, after more than half a decade of racing in Europe. Still, it wasn’t necessarily a step back for the former champion of Moldova, as he had the opportunity to rediscover himself after a difficult 2013. Even though he didn’t race much, the 27-year-old got four wins, which landed him a new contract, with Synergy Baku Cycling Project, where he will have the chance to be one of the leaders of the team and share his experience to the younger riders.
– Alexandr, are you satisfied with your season?
Not really. I missed a lot of races and opportunities, but I learned a lot from this season. I learned how to deal with stress disappointments, be motivated, wear the cycling pants and go for training without any goals. I just trained hard and stayed focused.
– You won your first race in more than three years – Nationals aside – at the Melaka Chief Minister’s Cup. Was that victory important for your confidence?
No, not really important. I came into age and I must win those races. I know what I’m capable of, but I didn’t have a lot of chances to show it off. Same goes for the Sharjah Tour, I must win this kind of races. And with the Sharjah Tour being the final race for Sky Dive Dubai, I wanted to be very good there.
– How was the whole Sky Dive Dubai experience?
I have nothing bad to say. It was better than in some World Tour teams and had a family friendly atmosphere. Paco Mancebo has a huge experience and he is a golden rider for the team: he learns the young cyclists and he wins races. He is a great person. Actually, I can say only good things about all the riders who are in the team, honestly. Ricardo Martins was doing his best to form this group. I feel that now he is back on track and the team is going to grow up.
– Do you feel you’ve improved during this past year?
It was a new team and a new start, but even with those small amount of races I got to know my body better and also how to train. I became the rider I used to be. It took some time, but now I’m ready.
– Recently, you signed with Synergy Baku Cycling Project. How did you end up there?
David McQuaid gave me a chance and I took it. My main goal is to help Azerbaijan get the points it needs for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games. Next step is to win whenever I can go for it. David McQuaid believes that I can share my experience and do the best to help Baku grow and get big results for the team.
– You’re turning 28 in January. How many seasons would you say you have ahead of you in the pro peloton?
At least 6-8 more years.
– And do you hope for a return to the World Tour?
Yes, but now I’m relaxed. The most important thing was to understand if I can find myself and I did it. I know who I am. The rest should come naturally.