Mikhail Ignatiev came just nine seconds shy of claming another gold medal in the Under 23 Time Trial World Championships. The 22 year-old Russian could not match the time of Dutchman Lars Boom, and he had to settle for silver. Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews visited the promising talent at the Russian team's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, to review the season and look ahead to 2008.
The Waldhorn hotel in Stuttgart was an unassuming place near the site of the 2007 Road Worlds, but walking inside we were greeted immediately by the man in charge of some of the most promising riders coming out of the land of ballet and caviar, Oleg Tinkov. The 39 year-old Russian businessman is the owner of Tinkoff Credit Systems and the motivator to many of the young Russians who were racing in Stuttgart, like Ignatiev, but also Nikolai Trusov and Ivan Rovny. The latter went on to animate the finale of the Under 23 road race.
Tinkov flew in specifically from Moscow for Ignatiev's time trial, arriving just minutes before the rider rolled out. Immediately after the run, he was zipping back to his home country. "I arrived five minutes before his start," said Tinkov, who was looking over the team's season's winnings on the internet, which was currently at 16. "He had already taken his place in the start house. I said 'go Misha,' and he looked down and saw me, and said 'cool, you are here!'"
The 38.1-kilometre race was hard-fought two-man duel between Boom and Ignatiev, with third place going to Jerome Coppel of France at 46 seconds out. Boom posted the quickest times through all the checks (14'18" at km 11.7, 23'28" at 19.3 and 39'29" at 31.1), but he was forced to sit down and wait as Ignatiev tried to better his time.
Ignatiev's first time check must have scared Boom as he was watching on television; Ignatiev was eight seconds up. But he could not hold, and faded by six and ten seconds at the following two checks (km 19.3 and 31.1). He had made up two more seconds by the finish, but that was not enough to add to his gold of 2005.