By Gregor Brown in Koksijde
Gold medallist in the 2004 Olympics, Mikhail Ignatiev, is looking forward to arriving on the track of the 106th Paris-Roubaix. Team Tinkoff Credit Systems has been invited to participate in the event organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and the 22 year-old Russian hopes to make the best of his abilities on velodrome's banks.
He returned from Manchester, England, where he competed the World Championships as part of the 2008 Olympics build up. "I had good form there," he noted to Cyclingnews at the finish Driedaagse De Panne stage two. "I did not have any luck in the points race [10th - ed.], nor in the Madison. It was big mess. [Alexei] Markov crashed, broke his collarbone in the first lap, and then after I could not do anything. We both had great form, and I think we could have at least taken a medal."
His next appointment on the track will in fact be at the Olympics in August. For the time being, he is focused on De Panne's final stage. "I think that the time trial will go well for me," he continued of the 13.7-kilometre run on Belgium's coast. "I think that I will be amongst the top three."
Without hesitation, he stated his joy to hit the cement track at the end of Paris-Roubaix. He will lead the Italian-Russian team in the Monument next Sunday. "Tinkoff will not be in the Tour of Flanders, but we will be in Paris-Roubaix," he continued. "It is important that I make it to the track in the first ten in Roubaix. On the track I will make it work out. [laughs - ed.]"
He has only ever seen the velodrome on television, but is aware the riders will only ride one and a half laps. "There needs to be 10 or 20 laps, this would be the best!"