Second Edition News for March 13, 2003
Vale Andrei Kivilev
Australian race promoter Phill Bates AM has met countless up-and-coming
riders over the years. A young Kazakh called Andrei was one of the most
impressive, as he recalls in this tribute.
Andrei Kivilev wearing the yellow
jersey on his way to winning the 1997 Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic
Photo: © Phill Bates
In 1992, as a 19 year old, Andrei Kivilev made his first appearance at
a major international cycle tour when he represented Kazakhstan in the
Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic.
He was here to support his better known champions, Alexander Nadobenko
and previous winner of the Classic, Valdimir Golushko.
I well remember meeting him at the airport, a pretty slight cyclist at
well under half my weight and not speaking any English. It was not unusual
for the Kazakhstan team with Manager Valentine Rekhert making up for the
team's inability to speak our language.
Andrei however did most of his talking with his pedalling and after the
finish of the tough nine days of racing, the young champion finished in
fifth place overall, behind Mike Weissman of Germany but ahead of his
more fancied team mates with Henk Vogels in sixth place, Nadobenko seventh,
Thomas Liese eighth and the late Darren Smith ninth.
The Kazakhstan team did not go home empty handed winning the teams championship
and Nadobenko the Mountain Championship.
I remember farewelling the team at the airport, I always wanted to make
sure that Valentine was actually departing, and Andrei gave me a big hug
and shed tears. He uttered his first English words and said "thankyou".
Andrei's 1997 victory
It was not until five years later that the Kazakhstan team made their
reappearance in Australia and we were reunited with both Alex Nadobenko
The Kazakhstan-Bates Bikes team
poses in front of some inevitable Sydney landmarks
Photo: © Phill Bates
He met me in the same fashion that he departed, a big hug but this time
tears of joy for being here once more. It certainly gave me great pride
to think that the international cyclists loved visiting our country so
much and competing in an event that had done much to enhance their careers.
Andrei's English had also improved immensely during the past five years.
There were six Kazakhstan riders here and the five man team of Kazakhstan
were riding for the first time in Bates Bikes attire. Andrei was not 100
percent, had a major knee problem and Valentin was keen to make changes
with the team, putting Nadobenko (who was riding for a combined international
team) into the Bates Bikes team and swapping with Andrei.
I stood firm, especially with the race program already finalised and
then went about having our physiotherapist, Glen Cloaco work on Andrei
to improve his condition. It was a morning ritual for me, picking Andrei
up and taking him to Glen, and the treatment continued right through the
entire length of the tour.
The 1,116 kilometre, nine-day race was a tough event with some big climbs
introduced and you could imagine my delight when Andrei claimed the lead
of the race after the fourth stage.
Andrei continued to defend his lead over the opposition and was so excited
when he was able to survive a major attack from second place getter Jens
Zemke into Nowra and maintain his lead.
Andrei claimed the win when the Cycle Classic reached its final destination
in Canberra and he was able to follow Zemke and ensure victory in the
race. He defeated some great cyclists including Matt White, Jay Sweet,
Andreas Kloden, Thomas Liese, Julian Dean, Lillywhite, Hunt and Tanner
and the likes of Raimondas Rumsas and the great Uwe Ampler.
It was a beaming smile at the presentation, some very well chosen words
in his appreciative victory speech that remain deeply etched in my memory.
Also his departure from Sydney a few days later, when he once again showed
his affection for Australia and mankind when he unashamedly cried.
Andrei was a thorough gentleman and the victory in the Cycle Classic
was the emergence of a new star, securing a contract with Festina less
than two weeks later and gooing on to star in many great events including
a fourth place in the Tour de France.
He reacquainted himself with Jono Hall when with Festina and remained
one of the most liked riders in the peloton.
There is little doubt that one of my great pleasures in life has been
following the progress of the many stars that raced the Cycle Classic
in their professional endeavours.
Today is an extremely sad day for the sport - Andrei Kivilev was a great
champion and a wonderful person. It was indeed my privilege.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)