Kanstantin Sivtsov on the podium.
Kanstantin Sivtsov on the podium.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

First of all, it’s pronounced “Sweets-off.” If you can’t get the last name, you can go with “Koste,” which is short for Kanstantin. But whatever you call him, Kanstantin Sivtsov left his stamp on American racing Saturday with a commanding win atop Brasstop Bald.

The stage win, which also moved him into the leader’s jersey by four seconds over Slipstream-Chipotle’s Trent Lowe, has put him on the map for many cycling fans.

A select few atop Brasstown Bald were already wise to the 25-year-old rider, who won the under-23 world championships in 2005. Astana team director Viatcheslav Ekimov was among them.

“Ekimov said, ‘You should watch this guy,’” said Astana’s Levi Leipheimer. “And yesterday he was on top of all the attacks. Sometimes people have to make that step [to the next level], and he made that step today.”

High Road team boss Bob Stapleton was clearly pleased with Sivtsov’s win, but wasn’t exactly surprised. Stapleton hired Sivtsov away from Barloworld, the team for which Sivtsov rode his first Tour de France last year, finishing 32nd overall.

“We were looking for a good young climber,” Stapleton said. “We weren’t confident in any of the older climbers. That’s why we brought in this whole class of new guys: Craig Lewis, John Devine, Morris Possoni, Sivtsov, Thomas Lövkvist. If they could ride in the mountains, maybe they could do something. And Sivtsov turns out to be a good TT guy, too. He’s an up-and-coming GC guy.

“Hopefully this really gives him confidence. I’d like to put him in the Tour, but we promised him he’d have a strong role in the Giro. We’ll take it race by race.”

Sivtsov hails from Gomel, Belarus, and lives outside Bergamo in Italy. He came to the United States for the first time in February for High Road’s team camp in California. The Tour de Georgia is his first American race.

“I am dreaming of racing well in the Tour de France, but first I go to the Giro d’Italia,” Kanstantin said. “This climb today is good practice for the hills in the Giro.”

Kanstantin turned pro in 2005. He has been living and racing in Italy for three years. He said enjoys the training outside of Bergamo.

“Bergamo is very crazy,” he said. “I am a few kilometers away, near Lake Iseo. It is very easy for training. There are not many cars, and lots of different terrain: big mountains, small mountains, whatever you need.”

At each of the dozen interviews Sivtsov gave after his win, he praised his team in his newly acquired English.

High Road teammate Michael Barry, who was preparing to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège, said via email that this was nothing new for the young rider.

“He’s a nice guy,” Barry said. “He’s quiet, kind, thoughtful and professional. He is really considerate of his teammates.”

Going forward, other riders in the peloton will certainly be giving the lithe rider more consideration when the roads turn skyward.

Sivtsov’s palmarès

1st, stage 6, Tour de Georgia

2nd, Giro dell’Appennino
3rd, GP Città di Camaiore
4th, Giro del Lazio
5th, Coppa Placci
8th, GP de Lugano
8th, GP de Chiasso

1st, Belarus road championship
1st, stage 5, Course de la Paix

1st, world under-23 road championship
1st, GP Folignano

2nd, Belarus road championship
3rd, Belarus time trial championship

2nd, Belarus time trial championship
3rd, Belarus road championship