Ukrainian gears up for French programme in Australia
Known as one of the most dedicated team players in professional cycling today, Ukraine’s Andriy Grivko has chosen to build the foundations for his second season with Astana at the Santos Tour Down Under.
While many teams and riders are already obsessed with scoring points for the World Tour or the UCI sporting evaluation system, Grivko admits he’s in Australia mostly for training.
“We know it’s important but we don’t feel any pressure at Astana to score points,” the man from Simferopol said. He used to initiate breakaways in every single race he took part in but he doesn’t waste as much energy with no profit any more. Alongside Jens Voigt and Sylvain Chavanel, Grivko was the fourth and least-known man in the famous breakaway that gave Oscar Pereiro a thirty minute bonus and the eventual overall victory at the 2006 Tour de France.
“The Tour Down Under is a bit too closed and controlled for riders like me to get results,” he explained. “There are so many teams of sprinters! We’ve built our tactics here around Allan Davis. We just work for him. Maybe he doesn’t have the same brilliant form he had at the world championship (3rd) in October but he’s strong enough to win a stage. The finale of stage 3 in Stirling was probably the best for him but Andre Greipel sent him to the barriers while he was on the wheel of the boy from Rabobank (Michael Matthews).”
A former rider with Domina Vacanze and Milram, Grivko was picked by Alexander Vinokourov for Astana after the 2009 season he spent with ISD-Neri. He rode both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France at the service of the Kazakh and Alberto Contador. The Spaniard has since left for Saxo Bank, and is currently awaiting a verdict on the positive test he returned for Clenbuterol at last year’s Tour.
“I don’t see any difference now that Contador isn’t with us anymore,” Grivko told Cyclingnews. “Maybe we feel less pressure from media and fans but I hope it will be another year of many successes. I think we can perform just like last year. We have a strong team. We’re very serene.”
Grivko will skip the Giro this year but the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana are on his calendar prior to the world championships, a race he has kept in his sights since he came fifth in Varese in 2008. “I’m on the French programme,” he said. “Our first big goal is Paris-Nice. Vinokourov, Roman Kreuziger and myself will do it with high ambitions. We heard there will be a time trial, which is good for us. We also feel this is our ‘home’ race. Our team’s headquarters are near Nice and a few of us live in Monaco.”