Russian National Championships - CN
Moscow, June 29-July 1, 2001
By Sergey Kurdukov, Russian Eurosport Commentator
Russian pros will get together in Krylatskoye in Moscow at the end of June for their national championships, just like most of their European colleagues in their respective countries. The organizers do not expect there will be many top names in the ITT, save, perhaps, Eugeni Petrov, the king of the under-23 Worlds in France last year. If he comes, he's almost sure to successfully defend his home title as he is top man against the clock in the country (arguably after Ekimov, but Slava has got quite a lot to think about, with the Tour high on his agenda).
On June 29 the participants will cover 33 kilometres, in three 11km laps over rather variable terrain. The route includes some 6km of almost completely flat road plus 5km along the final section of the Olympic road circuit which is very hilly. It's noteworthy that this part will be done in the direction opposite to the traditional one, thus long descents will turn into drags not a bad thing in a TT -- but steep climbs, accordingly, will convert into breathtaking drops. At the end of the sharpest of them, where you easily reach over 80km/h, you find yourself at the most dangerous point as you have to burn the break pads, take a hairpin to the right and at the same time try hard not to ram into some of your opponents who are just entering this part of the course uphill. Russian roulette, of a kind.
On July 1 the complete Olympic circuit will host the 204km road race. The line-up is expected to be very impressive, with all division 1 Russians likely to be at the start line, Pavel Tonkov (Mercury-Viatell), Viathceslav Ekimov (USPS), Dimitry Konychev (Fassa Bortolo), Guennadi Mikhailov (Lotto) are just a few names to mention and you can't discount the all-rounder Andrei Zintchenko of La Pecol as well as other Division 2 die-hards such as Smetanin, Davidenko, Sivakov and Kokorine. Sergey Ivanov, completely back from injury in his first year with Feretti's squad, is up against a gruelling task of making the poker, being undoubtedly the most successful Russian pro on the national arena. Young hopefuls from ITERA are sure to start too.
The 13.4km lap is considered a classic route in Russia. It includes hundreds of turns, some of them on downhill sections with almost velodrome cambers. And what goes down must come up a number of steep (up to almost 20 per cent) climbs. Only the kilometre-long finish area is flat and wide.
It's almost 10 years since this circuit was used for highest-ranking competition. Fans older than 25 remember quite well the XXII Olympics and "Sukho"'s triumph, the 1995 Peace Race and surprisingly dominant Polish riders, and the World Junior Championships in 1989 in which Lance Armstrong made his top-level debut. The very first Russian pro champs in Moscow in the early 90s were also held in Krylatskoye, but the start and the finish were set up in the Red Square along the famous century-old cobblestones. The tour of the heart of Russian capital was a great idea, but today it is much harder to stage as Moscow traffic is many times more dense than a decade ago. Besides, it's more than 10 kilometres between Krylatskoye and the centre of the cityand that could seriously change scenario of the race.