Russian National Championships - CN

Moscow, June 29-July 1, 2001

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Day 1 - June 29: Elite Men time trial, 33 km

Petrov a bit late as his former teammates take over

By Sergey Kurdukov, Russian Eurosport commentator

A day before the start of the Russian pro ITT championship, Luca Gvercilena, one of the younger generation of Mapei's coaches told me: "Well, if Evgueni Petrov loses his title it won't be a tragedy for the team. We know pretty well that to win the championship is one thing but to defend the leading spot is quite another thing, a much harder task. Could he have imagined IN WHAT WAY Evgueni would miss the double...

Petrov, the best U23 chrono-man in the world was naturally to start last. He was warming up not far from the start/finish area, making rather long laps (perhaps too long, as you'll see a bit later), to keep his legs as warm as possible and set off briskly right from the scratch. But Luca and his Russian colleague Rinat Latypov, the coach of Agidel Team who still closely follows the development of his former team rider, were utterly shocked when heard the announcement that it was just about 15 second to Petrov's start. They jumped out of the team car and set off jumping and vigorously waving the hands in the air to show Evgueni (who was a couple of hundred meters away at the moment) he was to be at the line immediately. Unfortunately, Petrov is not much of a sprinter, and even less of a cross-country man to climb the stairs to the starting podium in no time at all. When he began his race, the time deficit was about 17 seconds.

He gave the race everything, enjoying Luca's typically Italian enthusiastic support (I felt sorry for his vocal chords), yet finally could only finish 4th. But if you look at the result sheet closely, you'll see that without this lapse, Petrov would have taken silver.

The race turned out to be really close and everything counted for the riders going near their limit. The 11 km long laps were very technical and hilly in some places, so the team coaches and organizers felt rather uncomfortable on the pre-race evening, constantly looking up to the cloudy skies as it started drizzling. Fortunately, the morning of the 29th of June was nice and the riders had to cope with an easier problem of broiling (by Moscow standards it's about 29 C nowadays) heat.

All in all, the younger ITT specialists were more successful on the sunny day (there was no end of pretty girls walking by to the nearby Olympic rowing channel to swim in its clean water and to sunbathe on the bank). Some of the girls were spotted on the eve of the race making fans graffiti on the most difficult uphill sections for the Muscovite Oleg Joukov. "Jouk (his nickname, the Russian for 'beetle') , it's your race" it read. Yet the silver medalist in 2000 and European ITT champion a couple of years ago looked somewhat heavy this time on his home ground, especially on the last of 3 laps.

Itera's boys also failed to live up to the highest expectations, and that was probably regrettable for their sponsor who also gave financial support to the championship. Olympic and World track medalist Alex Markov was not exceptional this time, although he was riding on home territory, like Joukov. The top two spots, rather surprisingly, were grabbed by the youngsters who'd left the juniors category not long ago.

23 year old Dmitri Sjomov and Denis Bondarenko (Petrov's former teammates) found the necessary rhythm. On the other hand, it's small wonder, as the former was a European ITT medalist in 2000, and the latter is fresh from the podium of the Baby Giro where he dominated in all the races against the clock.

An interesting detail about the newly-crowned champion (a highly communicative young man, by the way): he is the son-in-law of Latypov and he won hours before his 23rd birthday. Dmitri was born in Arzamas which is mistakenly thought in the West to be just a nuclear or chemical waste bin of the former USSR. He rode an ITT titanium frame built in Nizny Novgorod - and beat all the brands. As to Andrei Zintchenko, I hope it's not necessary to introduce the multiple Vuelta stage winner to anyone. His wife Irina and daughter Anjelika came from Spain with him and enjoyed his success.

Post-Race Interviews

Dmitri Sjomov (Agidel): "I felt comfortable with the route. Yes, it's technical but rather fast and I liked it . When you've got good legs, it's not so important what kind of terrain it is. The only problem for me was to watch out for some holes on the straight section. I am an ITT specialist, so on Sunday's road race I'll be a workhorse for my teammates. We'll try hard not to let the stars like Konychev or Tonkov to win easily. It was a nice atmosphere over here as my parents came from Arzamas to support me. My wife also inspired me greatly to this victory."

Denis Bondarenko (Resine Ragnioli-Agidel): "This silver is a nice surprise for me as my form is on the way down and I didn't feel that strong. No wonder as I've got a couple of successful Italian races behind me and it's hardly possible to be at the peak the whole of the season."

Andrei Zintchenko (LA-Pecol): "I am rather happy with the result. Actually I'm not at the top of my condition at the moment. Even my heart rate monitor shows it clearly...I rarely managed to hold more then 174 bpm. Tactically my position was not the most desirable either, as I opened the final group of elite and everyone could target my intermediate results. The top priority for my team is the Volta a Portugal and then the Vuelta, so I am supposed to be totally fit more than a month later. On the other hand, every medal is precious for me and my team. Besides, you should keep in my mind UCI points."

Evgueni Petrov (Mapei): "I am disappointed, of course. But it wasn't only my coming late to the start that mattered. I lost too much time on the sharp turns, and on a technical route like that it's crucial."

Alexander Gousiatnikov, President of Russian cycling federation: "We are determined to invite the strongest Russian pro's to Moscow, moreover, to the Krylatskoye Olympic centre. It's a legendary site and it must live on. But if we don't hold top-rate competitions here, we'll lose it. Yes, for time trialists it's not the easiest course, our generation of riders were more used to competing along the dead flat in the ITT. But that epoch is gone forever...just look how demanding ITT routes in Europe are."


1 Dmitri Sjomov (Agidel)                   40.54.70 (48.40 km/h)
2 Denis Bondarenko (Resine Ragnioli-Agidel) 0.14.08
3 Andrei Zintchenko (LA-Pecol)              0.17.50
4 Evgueni Petrov (Mapei)                    0.20.34
5 Faat Zakirov (Amore e Vita)               0.24.89
6 Artur Babaitsev (Team Nurnberger)         0.31.37
7 Alexei Markov (Itera)                     0.42.90
8 Oleg Joukov (Dynamo)                      0.45.26
9 Denis Tischenko (LADA-Samara)             0.51.08
10 Vladimir Karpets (Itera)                 0.52.90
11 Denis Menchov (             1.01.00
13 Sergei Smetanine (Jazztel-Costa Almeria) 1.40.51
21 Pavel Broutt (Itera)                     2.43.21

Starters: 48 
Finishers: 47
Disqualifications: 1