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Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) on the podium after winning stage 4 at the Tour of Belgium
2012 winner ready to support Nibali
The Kazakh rider won the race in 2012, catching his now team leader before the finish to seal the biggest win of his career. Now on the same team, Iglinskiy and Nibali will work together in Sunday's 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"It taken a long time to get into top form from the beginning of the season but I'm there now," Iglinskiy told Cyclingnews at Astana's press conference on Friday afternoon.
"I've got really good form and I'm in the kind of shape where I can get to the front of a race and be an active participant and make the race for the finale."
"I have a free role right now. When we get towards the finish we'll see how the legs are. If I can go away or make an attack, I'll do it. If I can help, I'll do that too but it's something we'll have to discuss in that sixth hour of racing but Nibali is our leader."
Iglinskiy's win in 2012 came after a number of top ten finishes major races. He had of course won Montepaschi Strade Bianche in 2010 but his triumph in Liege two years later was still somewhat of a surprise. As expected it made the headlines back in Kazakhstan.
"When I got back they meet me at the airport with television cameras. There were flowers, lots of congratulations and interviews and it was a big deal back home. Alexandre Vinokourov was happy, everything in the team was happy and the cycling federation was very happy."
His win was the culmination of his life's work up until that point. Every rider has a unique story on how they entered the sport and Iglinskiy is no different. At the age of ten he was drawn in when a sport's trainer arrived at his school in Kazakhstan.
"He asked if anyone wanted to try bike racing. It was a pretty cool thing because there was a chance of getting a free bike. I got into it, I started to like it and it's always been my dream to be a bike racer. It's been step by step to build this career," he said.
"That first bike though... it was in the 90s and it was a very poor time in that part of the world. I was given this big heavy steel frame by the school but we had to win it in little competitions. So we had a running competition between the kids and whoever won got the frame. But then we had to go out and find wheels and parts so we put the bikes together ourselves. It took about a month before we had a completed bike."
It wasn't all fun and games. Like all professional riders personal sacrifice registered high up in Iglinskiy's life.
"I travelled a lot and I went to a boarding school, so I didn't live with my family. I missed the full school and full educational experience. I went to school and studied but I spent more time training and going to training camps."
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