Pavel Sivakov: “Going to L’Avenir to fight for victory”
There’s no secret anymore that Pavel Sivakov is one of the strongest and most impressive riders on the U23 scene, but this doesn’t come as a surprise. All you need is a look over his incredible run this season and you understand why: between May 19 and July 16, he rode three stage races and won them all. When you see that those races were the prestigious Ronde de l’Isard, Girobio and Giro della Valle d’Aosta, you understand that this performance is a unique one in the amateur ranks and Pavel has a bright future ahead of him.
Only 20-years-old, Pavel has rose through the ranks in the past two seasons as a member of the BMC Development Team and is now one of the most sought-after youngsters, with several World Tour squads rumoured to have shown an interest in signing him after his remarkable exploits and versatility caught their eye. Despite this, the Russian’s main focus at the moment is on the Tour de l’Avenir, which last year he finished just outside the top 10 overall. If in 2016 he was only discovering the demanding French race, this time around he lines out at the start as one of the main contenders.
More about his goals for L’Avenir, his take on the parcours and the superb season he’s had so far, you can read in this interview which Pavel Sivakov gave for Cafe Roubaix before heading to France.
– Pavel, if anyone would have told you at the beginning of the year you’ll have such a terrific season, what would you have said?
I think I would have just laughed. I knew that I was able to win one of those races, but winning three in row is just something incredible! My ambitions were to take the victory in Liège–Bastogne–Liège and do a good Giro d’Italia. I failed on my first goal, but was able to succeed on achieving the other one. It’s a huge satisfaction to get the victory in a race you were targeting since last winter.
– Ronde de l’Isard, Girobio and Giro della Valle d’Aosta, that’s quite the palmares. Which of these victories makes you the most proud?
Definitely, the U23 Giro, it was an amazing feeling to finish at the top! It was also the hardest one, as the gaps on my rivals were really small and I took the pink jersey pretty early, so that meant extra daily pressure. My teammates worked hard and did a fantastic job from day one, so I just had to win it for them. It’s true that if I wouldn’t have won Ronde de l’Isard, then maybe I wouldn’t have had the same confidence coming to Italy. Same could be said about Giro della Valle d’Aosta; I went there without any pressure and did my race, as I knew I had the level required to do something there.
– Speaking of Girobio, how did you find the race which made its return to the calendar after several years of absence?
In my opinion, it’s one the biggest races of the year and to win it was such an honour. Girobio has a great history, high-caliber riders, a big fight every day and a flawless organization, all these making it one of the best races out there. Coming out on top in the U23 Giro d’Italia is the most important moment of my career and also the best, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of my team, who were amazing.
– Can there be room for regrets after such an incredible run?
No, I don’t have any regrets, all the mistakes I made in the first part of the season served as a good lesson for the rest of the year; it’s going really well at the moment and I’ll work to keep it that way.
– Your primary goal for the second part of the season is the Tour de l’Avenir. I assume you’re going there thinking of the win.
Tour de l’Avenir will be my last big goal of the season, so yes, I’m heading to the race to fight for the overall victory. I’m aware that I will be one of the favorites there and I will do my best to assume this status.
– What’s your opinion on the parcours? Do you feel you’re disadvantaged by the lack of an ITT?
The parcours is really interesting, we start in Bretagne and finish in the Alps by crossing France, so it’s like a mini Tour de France. I think it’s a really nice course, only thing missing is an individual time trial, which would have been perfect to take some time on the pure climbers. I guess the first couple of days will be very nervous and maybe even crucial, because we will ride through a part of France exposed to the wind, where some echelons can be made. The winner will have to be focused and at all times attentive. Of course, we’ll be in for some great battles in the Alps, but there’s a long road until there and anything can happen before the big mountains.
– Who do you expect to be your biggest challengers in France?
It’s hard to say, many riders and teams are capable of winning. This year, one of my biggest rivals is Bjorg Lambrecht, I think it’s a really good course for him but also for a guy like Egan Bernal. I would have liked an ITT to gain some time on them. The Australians have a very good team, so they too will be strong. Neilson Powless is another big contender and I guess he too would have like to have a stage against the clock, just like me. Of course, being at home, also the French will be a team to watch.
– And what other objectives you have for the closing part of the season?
I will try to get a good result at the World Championships in Bergen, which will be an interesting race, I’m sure of that. I’m also keen on racing the Piccolo Giro di Lombardia and help my teammates; they did so much for me this year and I just want to pay back the favour.