Evgeni Berzin may be returning to the professional peloton to race for the first time since 2000. The 37 year-old Russian, winner of the 1994 Giro d'Italia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, has re-found his racing form, and he has attracted the attention of Professional Continental Team Tinkoff Credit Systems.
Compatriot and Tinkoff Team Owner, Oleg Tinkov, would like to have Berzin in his 2008 squad as a mentor to the younger riders. Berzin will travel to Forte dei Marmi (Tuscany) this Sunday or Monday for a training camp with the team.
"We have known each other for a few years," he said of his relationship with Tinkov during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He was a racer and he loves this sport. He would like that I become a maestro to his younger riders. I would like to be utilized for preparation and organization of life outside of cycling. A rider has to think right away about constructing his future, because as soon as he stops riding there will be no one, even if on the bike he was a champion. Many do not know this. The real world is different than that of cycling.
"I will study the team," he continued of the upcoming training camp. Mikhail "Ignatiev has a good rhythm, but he has to learn how to race. How many races did he throw away this year? [Pavel] Brutt and [Ivan] Rovny are good, but... I think they started too early. It would have been better to wait to race the Giro d'Italia at age 22."
The attraction back to the sport which he left at 30 years-old is based on passion and not greed; Berzin owns three Fiat car dealerships near Milano. "At first it was a big effort. All of my friends dropped me," he continued. Berzin was reportedly up to 81 kilograms before dropping down to his current weight of 67 kilograms.
"This year I rode 20,000 kilometres, and now it is the others that are being dropped."