The Rise of Aleksandr Vlasov

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Aleksandr Botcharov’s been knocked of his perch. Until today he’d been the best Russian rider called Aleksandr to race up Mont Ventoux thanks to his second place on the mountain in a stage of the Tour de France back in 2004. Today Aleksandr Vlasov won the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge race ahead of Richie Porte and Guillaume Martin. Here’s a closer look at the Astana rider’s career so far.

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Gazprom-Rusvelo To Ride Giro d’Italia

What was it about the team sponsored by a $40 billion company that attracted RCS to give Gazprom-Rusvelo a wildcard for the Giro? You probably can’t name a rider on the Russian team and if you could you’d know they’re not exactly “must have” riders that the Giro needs to send ratings soaring. So the invitation is a surprise. It’s probably down to money but the real concern is collusion between this team and Katusha as both share the same DNA.

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Can You Love Katusha?

Alexander Porsev Katusha
Katusha team owner Igor Makarov might be one of the wealthiest men in the world but even he’s said he can’t fund the team forever. He’s helped to bankroll the team with support from Itera, the gas giant he founded in the 1990s, since he bought out Oleg Tinkov in 2008. There’s been open talk for that he’s thinking of stepping back from the team once he’s funded Russian cycling’s journey to Rio. He’s right to question the spending given the team’s best results have come from foreigners and Russian recruits like Denis Galimzyanov and Denis Menchov have been disastrous.

Faced with this the team is setting out to woo fans and improve on the squad’s unloved image.

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Tour de Romandie Wrap

Ilnur Zakarin won the Tour de Romandie, climbing faster than Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana on the mountain stage and were it not for a mechanical mishap he’d have out-ridden Tony Martin in a technical time trial too. The Russian was the surprise package of the race while the pre-Tour clash of Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali never came alive.

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The Kaykov Case: Black Market Drug Detected

When the news came out about Valery Kaykov this morning I couldn’t be bothered to mention it in a tweet. Doping news can crowd out other stories to the point where if one rider tests positive then it can be the only mention they get. Kaykov’s had some success as a track racer but I’d not covered his success in the velodrome nor his wins on the road either so why mentioned he’d tested positive?

Only this has changed because the substance he’s been caught with is GW501516, a drug so dangerous that WADA issued an unprecedented alert last month.

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Oleg Tinkov Returns

The Saxo Bank team unveiled a new co-sponsor today: Tinkoff Bank. The team will now be called Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank, a mouthful that will be awkward to pronounce and type.

It marks the return of Oleg Tinkov to the sport. A Russian entrepreneur, he is a lively character with a past unlike almost anyone else in the sport.

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The Galimzyanov letter and questions for Katusha

This is the confession of Dennis Galimzyanov. In this handwritten letter dated today the rider admits to his team that he took banned substances and waives his right to the B-sample being tested. He states that he acted alone, even using capital letters to help emphasise nobody from the Katusha team was involved.

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Denis Galimzyanov suspended pending EPO test

Katusha’s Denis Galimzyanov has been provisionally suspended following a positive test for EPO. In a press release issued by the UCI, the Russian rider was caught in an out of competition test on 22 March.

Here’s a look at the what happens next and why his team just can’t seem to get any good news.

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Oiling the Wheels in Turkmenistan

In March this blog looked at the award of the 2013 track world championships to Belarus, a decision taken with input from a senior UCI official with a significant financial interest in a giant construction project in the capital, Minsk. Whether coincidental or not, the awarding of the worlds served to highlight the significant conflict of interest between the UCI’s sporting interests and the business activities of Igor Makarov, the Russian oligarch behind the Katusha team who now sits at the UCI’s top table, the Management Committee.

Now it’s time to take another look because sadly the overlap between sport and business is not restricted to one case. In another example here is a tale from Turkmenistan.

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UCI waive their own rules to let Kolobnev join Katusha

How good is your maths? If you can count, have a go at the number of riders listed on the Katusha team as of tonight on the UCI website. I make it 28 riders and one neo, a total of 29 riders.

All seems normal so far. Only the Russian team today announced it has signed Alexander Kolobnev. And that is against the UCI rules.

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