Road

Thursday’s Eurofile: Ignatiev on track to road career; Flanders rosters firming up

Mikhail Ignatiev is barely old enough to buy a drink (at least in the U.S.), but his palmares are already overflowing with impressive results. The 21-year-old delivered Russia’s only medal at the recent world track cycling championships with a bronze medal in the men’s points race. Although he’s the defending Olympic gold medalist in the points race, Ignatiev says his future remains firmly planted on the road. In the meantime, the lure of another Olympic gold medal is too great to ignore. “I want to defend my title in Beijing, so I will race more track events early next year to qualify and

By Andrew Hood

Ignatiev - here at the Mediterranean Tour - sees his future on the road.

Ignatiev – here at the Mediterranean Tour – sees his future on the road.

Photo: Agence France Presse (file photo)

Mikhail Ignatiev is barely old enough to buy a drink (at least in the U.S.), but his palmares are already overflowing with impressive results. The 21-year-old delivered Russia’s only medal at the recent world track cycling championships with a bronze medal in the men’s points race. Although he’s the defending Olympic gold medalist in the points race, Ignatiev says his future remains firmly planted on the road. In the meantime, the lure of another Olympic gold medal is too great to ignore. “I want to defend my title in Beijing, so I will race more track events early next year to qualify and prepare for the Olympics,” Ignatiev told VeloNews. “After the Olympics, I will concentrate on the road. That’s the future for me.” Ignatiev is one of the brightest of a new generation of Russian riders following in the footsteps of the likes of Evgeni Berzin, Viatcheslav Ekimov and Dmitri Konyshev who blazed roads into Europe in the 1990s. A native of St. Petersburg, Ignatiev now lives and trains in Marina di Massa in Italy where he’s an integral part of the Tinkoff Credit Systems team. He’s already delivered two wins for the upstart team, including a stage at the Tour Mediterranean and the Trofeo Laigueglia. His biggest successes have come against the clock, winning back-to-back junior world time trial titles in 2002-03 and then the U23 world TT title in 2005. Last year, he was runner-up in Salzburg. After his track success in Palma de Mallorca, Ignatiev is reloading for the road. “The big goal right now is to try to win the team time trial at the Giro and wear the pink jersey for a few days,” Ignatiev said. “We will have a strong team and the idea is to try to get me into the pink jersey. Then I will work for the team captains in the GC.” Pozzato confident for cobbles
A stomach bug kept Filippo Pozzato from being his best at Milan-San Remo, but the emerging Italian star promises he’s back in the running for the upcoming northern classics. “I’ve had ideal preparation for Flanders, but the most important thing is to do something important for the team,” Pozzato told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Our team will be a factor, with Paolini, Quinziato and Petito.” Pozzato wasn’t at his best to defend his title at Milan-San Remo due to an intestinal bug and later took three days rest to fully recover. The Liquigas captain is now set to race all three big races during the week, Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. Of the week’s three big races, Pozzato said: “Flanders is the hardest, but at the same time the easiest. If you have the legs, you’ll be at the front. Ghent is hardest to interpret. Roubaix, in respect to the other two, is where luck plays the biggest role.” Liquigas for Tour of FlandersFilippo PozzatoRoberto PetitoFrederik WillemsMauro Da DaltoManuel QuinziatoLuca PaoliniAliaksandr KuchynskiMurilo Rischer
McEwen KO’d for Flanders
A bout of the flu will keep an in-form Robbie McEwen out of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders. The Aussie pocket rocket won a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico and finished a best ever fourth at Milan-San Remo. “Robbie is hardly suffering at all with his back after his falls in the Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, but is down with flu,” Predictor manager Marc Sergeant told AFP. “He wasn’t able to train Wednesday and so we’ve decided not to let him start on Sunday.” Leading Predictor-Lotto will be Leif Hoste, second last year to Tom Boonen. Predictor-Lotto for FlandersLeif HosteStefano ZaniniJohan Van SummerenRoy SentjensBert RoesemsBjorn LeukemansWim VansenantWim De Vocht
CSC playing O’Grady, Cancellara cards
Team CSC will play the double option of Stuart O’Grady and Fabian Cancellara for the upcoming run over the cobblestones. Cancellara is riding into form after shaking off an early season bout of the flu just in time to defend his title at Paris-Roubaix. O’Grady, meanwhile, is hoping to score a breakthrough victory after scoring nearly a dozen top-five results this season. “We’re hoping to win one of the big ones,” said Team CSC sport director Scott Sunderland. “It’s not easy to defend after a big victory like Paris-Roubaix, but our boys are in even better condition than they were last year.” CSC for FlandersStuart O’GradyKarsten KroonMarcus LjungqvistMatti BreschelFabian CancellaraKasper KlostergaardAllan JohansenLars Michaelsen
No Valverde for Flanders
Defending ProTour champion Alejandro Valverde is taking a wide berth when it comes to the dangerous cobbles of the Tour of Flanders. Instead, he’ll line up for the Tour of the Basque Country before heading to the Ardennes to defend his titles at Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Caisse d’Epargne will, however, field a strong team featuring rising stars Vicente Reynes, José Joaquín Rojas and Luis León Sánchez. Caisse d’Epargne for FlandersEric BerthouFlorent BrardImanol ErvitiVicente García AcostaNicolas PortalVicente ReynesJosé Joaquín RojasLuis León Sánchez

ProTour teams and (most) riders commit to DNA tests
All 20 ProTour teams and all but a handful of their riders agreed tomake DNA profiles available for testing in doping disputes.The announcement Wednesday by the UCI and the ProTour teams came a dayafter German prosecutors said a DNA sample taken from former Tour de Francechampion Jan Ullrich was matched to blood bags seized in the Spanish dopingscandal.The commitment of riders and teams “gives us an important tool to workwith,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said.Under the system, the riders would have to make their DNA informationavailable to prove their innocence once they are involved in a doping investigationrequiring such scientific evidence.The decision does not mean cyclists have to put their DNA in a specializedinformation bank. They only have to make a binding commitment to do so,said Gerrit Middag, the general manager of the International ProfessionalCycling Teams.”It gives the right signal,” Middag said. “In the long term, it willprove its value.”The half dozen uncommitted riders were not named and, at this point,do not face a deadline or risk of sanctions.German prosecutors announced on Tuesday they were able to match Ullrich’sDNA with blood found as part of Operación Puerto, which led to the1997 Tour winner being excluded from last year’s Tour de France. Ullrichhas denied using any banned substances.The Spanish investigation implicated more than 50 cyclists and led topre-race favorites Ullrich and Ivan Basso, along with seven other riders,being excluded from last year’s Tour de France.The allegations also forced two teams to dissolve when their sponsorsbacked out.McQuaid said the UCI would pursue the Operación Puerto case as far as possible.”We want to get all the truth out,” he said.
Agence France Presse