Newly crowned Russian champion Alexandr Kolobnev (Itera-Katusha) is carrying some battle scars after the early Tour de France stages, but that hasn’t dented his hopes of winning a stage at the French race. The 29-year-old is making his Tour debut, having moved to the Russian squad from Saxo Bank despite having a year left on his contract with the Danish squad.
Kolobnev has been used to skipping the Tour to reserve his strength for the end of the season. He has finished second at the UCI world road championship on two occasions, in 2007 and 2009.
“I’ll have more opportunities to win a stage here at the Tour de France,” he said of the change in focus. “I’m in a period of good shape. I hope to recover from this crash and then… via! (let’s go)
“Every stage is good to win,” he added. “The good thing is our captains haven’t crashed and haven’t lost too much time either in a stage that we feared a lot.”
Kolobnev started the Tour’s stage four looking like a mummy, after crashing on the previous day’s cobbled stage. “I fell after 115 kilometres on stage three,” he said. “There was a cyclists lane and a couple of riders fell because of the walkside. It’s a pity because I was feeling really good. I wanted to do well in that stage but I also liked the previous one.”
While Kolobnev didn’t win stage two, he can still be considered one of the luckier riders on the day. Mechanicals aren’t normally welcomed by riders, but it prevented Kolobnev from joining the large group of riders to crash on the Stockeu descent.
“I didn’t crash during stage two only because I had broken my back wheel before everybody crashed,” he said. “As I was coming across to the bunch my directeur sportif told me to be careful because there was a big crash that just happened before I reached that point. But it ruined my chances of trying and winning the stage.”
Kolobnev finished second to Alexandre Vinokourov at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April. Katusha’s general classification hopes Vladimir Karpets and Joaquim Rodriguez are 34th and 60th at 3:05 and 3:33 mins respectively overall.