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Egan Bernal’s Giro hopes could hinge on young Russian Sivakov

Russian climber Pavel Sivakov will be a key asset to Egan Bernal's Giro d'Italia effort

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FIRENZE, Italy (VN) — Russian Pavel Sivakov could be the key component to Team Ineos’s upcoming attempt to win the Giro d’Italia with Colombian climber Egan Bernal.

The 21-year-old Sivakov was recently named to Ineos’s Giro roster as a climbing domestique to help Bernal survive the tough mountain days. Sivakov’s recent victory at the Tour of the Alps was confirmation that the Russian has the legs and experience to influence a three-week race.

“Of course, the win was good for the confidence ahead of the Giro. I know my shape is there and now I just have to do everything right to be ready,” Sivakov said. “It’s also good for the confidence of the team because we saw Tao Geoghegan Hart going well, winning two stages.”

Sivakov completes a Team Ineos roster that includes talented climber Geoghegan Hart and flatlander Christian Knees, among others.

Sivakov can soar through the high mountains, blaze a fast time trial, and even survive hilly and flat terrain. Prior to turning professional he won the Under-23 version of the Giro d’Italia in 2017. Later that year he claimed the mountains classification at the Tour l’Avenir, which was won by Bernal.

His results at the development level showed a level of versatility that is rarely seen at that level. He won the junior Tour of Flanders in 2015 placed second in the under 23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and 15th in the under 23 Paris-Roubaix that year. With the BMC development team, he won the Ronde de l’Isard and the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta.

Sivakov’s ability springs from a variety of sources, including his parents, both of whom were professional cyclists. His father, Alexi Sivakov, completed three Tours de France. His mother, Aleksandra Koliaseva, was a two-time world champion in the team time trial.

The 2019 Giro d’Italia begins next Saturday with a time trial in Bologna. Stars including Bernal, Tom Dumoulin and Simon Yates are aiming for the overall.

Sivakov is Russian, and his versatility also includes a variety of languages. Close your eyes and you would think you were speaking with a young Frenchman with a good command of English. Sivakov was born in in Italy but has a French accent being raised in Toulouse.

Sivakov developed, racing the Vuelta a España last year while Bernal began to blossom. But Bernal, 22 and winner of this year’s Paris-Nice, is Ineos’s crown jewel among its treasure chest of young talents. Even Sivakov agrees.

“Maybe I’ll have a role at the end of the team,” Sivakov. “Egan has shown a few times he can be there in big, big races a few times, so I think he’s going to be the leader.”

However, as he showed in the amateur ranks, Sivakov can do it all. He pumps out watts in the time trials, climbs with the best and descends with ease. Those skills helped him overcome attacks from Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and his multiple rivals at the Tour of the Alps. Sivakov won ahead of Geoghegan Hart, with Nibali in third.

“Obviously I feel I’m in really good shape and ready to go for the Giro, but I think Egan is one step higher, especially in the high mountains and the Giro will be decided in the high mountains,” Sivakov added.

“Performing well at the Tour of the Alps is good for morale. We’re going to the Giro for Egan but if you know you’re strong, you can do a good job and also learning how to do it. It’s important for me to learn for the future and to do well individually and as a whole team.”