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Normally, only one rider wears the Ukrainian jersey — the national champion. On Wednesday, seven riders did.
The Italian ProTeam Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli took the stage at the Trofeo Laigueglia team presentation wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag, with the slogan #NoWar across the front.
Ukrainian national road champion Andrii Ponomar rides for Drone Hopper-Androni. Ponomar is not racing at Trofeo Laigueglia. Instead, his teammates from Italy, Asmara, Ecuador, and Colombia pedaled up to the team presentation and flew the Ukrainian flag on their chests.
“We wanted to express our solidarity with Andrii Ponomar and his nation,” said team general manager Gianni Savio. “We consider the Russian invasion of Ukrainian to be shameful. We hope that this absurd war ends as soon as possible, so that the Ukrainian people can once again live in peace and freedom.”
Support for Ukrainians and protests against the Russian invasion of that country have been widespread throughout professional cycling.
Former world under-23 road race champion and Tour de France stage winner Yaroslav Popovych said he is considering going back to his home country of Ukraine to join the fight.
On Tuesday, one day after the International Olympic Committee recommended the blocking of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international competitions, the UCI banned Russian and Belarussian teams from competition. Russian and Belarussian athletes can still compete, however.
Russian Pavel Sivakov, who races for Ineos Grenadiers, posted on social media that he is “totally against the war.”
Sivakov stressed that he felt that the majority of Russian civilians were also against the conflict and he added that the people of Russia should not be vilified or turned into figures of hate and abuse as a result of rising tensions.
“I also want people to understand that most of the Russians only want peace and never asked for all this to happen. We shouldn’t be targets of hate just because of our origin. I know these few lines won’t make a big difference to the current situation but I just wanted to share it. Peace.”