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MANTES-LA-VILLE, France (VN) – Bora-Hansgrohe’s Aleksandr Vlasov, the only Russian rider in the Paris-Nice peloton, hadn’t been expected to speak to the media following a statement he posted on his Instagram account on Thursday in which he spoke out against the war in Ukraine, saying, “I, like a lot of Russians, just want peace… I feel sorry for all the people who are suffering”.
However, just before the opening stage of “The Race to the Sun” got underway a few dozen kilometers to the west of Paris, the 25-year-old did face the press.
Vlasov began by saying that he’s trying to concentrate on the race and on “getting the best result possible for the team.” He added: “The situation is difficult, but I’m trying not to think about it and trying not to look at my phone all the time to see the news. I’m just trying to do my job as always.”
Pressed for his reaction to the UCI’s decision to suspend teams from Russia and Belarus, he said that he feels that it was the right decision given the current hostilities in Ukraine.
“In this situation, I think it’s correct because it’s a shock for everyone. It’s a difficult time but I hope it gets resolved soon,” he said of the conflict, which began when Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24.
He said that he hadn’t yet had the chance to talk to riders on any other team about the situation in Ukraine in order to gauge their reaction to the situation.
“I’ll tell you in a few days when I’ve spoken to some of them,” he said.
There were also some questions about the rider’s prospects for Paris-Nice, a race where, as an Astana rider, he finished runner-up last year to Max Schachmann, with whom he now shares leadership at Bora following his off-season transfer.
“We have a good team here with Max and, of course, we are here for the best result possible,” said Vlasov. “Having the runner-up and defending champion is an advantage for us because we’ve got more cards to play. We’ll see how we both feel during the race and take it from there.”