Cyclingnews talks with Andrei Zintchenko

By Sergey Kurdukov, Russian Eurosport commentator

Zintchenko has mixed feelings

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After winning at Lagos de Covadonga
Photo ©:AFP

Bio: Andrei Zintchenko

Date of Birth: January 5, 1972
Place of Birth: Samara, Russia
Ranking at 30/11/2000: 152.


1994: Porcelana Santa Clara
1995: Porcelana Santa Clara
1996: Porcelana Santa Clara
1997: Toscaf/Estepona
1998: Vitalicio Seguros
1999: Vitalicio Seguros
2000: LA-Pecol
2001: LA-Pecol

Career highlights

1998: 3 stages Vuelta a España; Escalada a Montjuich + stage
2000: stage Vuelta a España
2001: 3rd, Russian national ITT

Thanks to

On the whole, Andrei Zintchenko, winner of many of the hardest stages of the Vuelta, and rather a versatile rider, tended to produce an impression of himself as an optimist while riding the Russian championships at the beginning of July. This optimism was by no means baseless as cycling specialists, some of whom were following the road race in cars, observed "Zintchenko really has ridden into form" (though he claimed the opposite in his pre-race interview). It was really striking how easily he maneuvered on the hardest climb, coming back and forth while taking some bottles — vitally important in the heat. Unfortunately he narrowly missed the title he looked likely to take for the first time in his life. That left him with the bronze from the ITT.

CN: You've been working with LA-Pecol team for the second season running. How do you like it in there? People say sometimes you took a major step back from the level of Vitalisio Seguros.

AZ: Well, LA Pecol is a typical second division team, that's true. They emphasize their home national tour, the two weeks long Tour of Portugal. I took third in the GC last year, and it was quite a satisfactory result. But when I took one of La Vuelta's 'epics' to the top of Lagos de Covadonga, they found that still more enjoyable. No wonder as it takes time to call back to mind when a rider from a Portugal team won such a race in a Grand Tour. Besides, it's a pleasure to work in a leader's position.

CN: Was your parting with Vitalisio at the end of 1999 smooth? No bitter feelings from managers?

AZ: Absolutely not. It's normal for me to remain on good terms with my former teammates and bosses, and everything is settled peacefully every time I go into a new squad. I was given a good reference from my former team that helped me to occupy a position of a really useful rider right away.

CN: Has anything changed in your way of life after your move to Portugal?

AZ: In fact, I haven't moved, my home is still in Spain, I live there with my wife and daughter.

Both Andrei's women were present and it seemed they felt perfectly at ease in the Krylatskoye velodrome apartment. Andrei's wife Irina looks very much like a Spanish girl, tanned and dark-haired, in contrast to her husband , who's got something Nordic about his appearance, although he was born and grew up in Caucasus, in the city of Naltchik, the capital of an autonomous region. As to his small daughter Anjelika, born in the Pyrenean peninsula, she has a definitely Spanish temperament. "Absolutely untamable creature," Andrei says, but it's evident that doesn't get him angry.

CN: I see here both of your bikes. MASIL is not the most famous brand. What can you say about it?

AZ: Today, I think, there is a main stream along which most frame builders go, in Portugal just like in Italy. You see aluminium alloy profiled tube sets, both forks made from carbon fiber, of course. Road bike is lighter than the ITT bike, perhaps as they paid more attention to aerodynamics.

CN: Which gear did you mostly use in ITT this time?

AZ: A small one for me, 55:16, sometimes not even that, and it was vitally important to keep reasonable cadence on uphill sections. They often criticize me for crunching overly big gears, so I try to take it into account. This time I was pedaling along, and it worked.

CN: Many of your Russian colleagues removed not only heart rate monitors but even traditional cyclocomputers before the start:

AZ: Not , that's not my way. I wore the transmitting belt around my chest, here it is, and here are the readings of HR monitor. The measurements get recorded every 5 seconds. A nice way to analyze the race and put in some corrections. For example, the peak and average heart rate was not sufficiently high today. At the start it was also too low, I found my rhythm later on. No wonder, as top form was not planned for the end of June.

CN: I am afraid it won't be used totally when it comes, as your team seems to be missing wild card selection for the Vuelta.

AZ: Yes, and that's quite disappointing. I believe, the team of a rider who regularly wins prestigious stages of a Grand Tour has a right to be invited. As a matter of fact, I am a Grand Tour man as I recuperate very effectively. Second half of a 3-week-long race is always just a new starting point for me. Well, no good crying over spilt milk, it's time to start getting ready for Tour of Portugal.

CN: Your victories are not frequent, but they are always carried out with great style. Is that also a rule of yours to win different races in different ways - in solo attacks or in a small bunch sprints?

AZ: When I've got good legs, I can win any sort of race, from ITT to a mythic climb like Lagos de Covadonga. The rule is to try and win really prestigious stages, as they are remembered for long and by many. You are supposed to take risk with nothing guaranteed, as was the case in last year's Vuelta, in cold and mist. Fortunately, I can stand cold as well as heat, that helps me to follow into Tonkov's footsteps. His victories in Pyrenees were really inspiring for me. He's a rider of great class.

CN: By the way, who are your chatting partners when a race in Spain just rolls along?

AZ: We used to spend most of the time with Sergei Smetanine, yet we're not on the same team any longer that changes things somewhat. Have you seen his abrasions, by the way? His squad fell victim to a very crazy TTT in Volta Catalunya one of those days, a downhill course for TTT... Well, we socialise with Slava Ekimov, although we live rather far apart, some 350km. Generally speaking, all the riders from former Soviet republics are on friendly terms with each other, trying to keep closer in races, certainly when the situation allows. Even the guys from Baltic states form no exception, we still have a lot in common.

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