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.