Pavel Sivakov: Russia's new star

Team Ineos youngster experiencing dream season

By winning the recent Tour de Pologne, Pavel Sivakov notched up his third win this year – and the second stage race victory of his young pro career with Team Ineos.

Sivakov has admitted that his results have far outweighed his expectations.

"To be honest, I didn't expect to have such a good season this year. Once more, I've surprised myself by winning the Tour de Pologne," admitted Sivakov via the Team Ineos website. "Winning the Tour of the Alps was a really big thing for me, in front of guys like Vincenzo Nibali [Bahrain-Merida] and Rafal Majka [Bora-Hansgrohe].

"I would never have expected to have my own chance to ride for the GC in the Giro or to finish in the top 10," he added.

The now 22-year-old is considered one of the biggest future talents of the sport after winning the Under 23 Giro d'Italia and other major races in 2017. He joined what was then Team Sky in 2018, and was given the chance to ride his first Grand Tour at that year's Vuelta a Espana. A crash ended his race after two weeks although he recovered in time to represent Russia in the elite men's time trial and road race at the world championships in Innsbruck, Austria, later that month. 

Sivakov is the son of former Russian cyclists Alexei Sivakov and Aleksandra Koliaseva. He was born in Italy but grew up in Haute Garonne in the southwest of France and so speakaa multitude of languages.

The 2019 season started with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in January, and Sivakov stayed in Australia for the Herald Sun Tour, where he finished as the best young rider and eighth overall, while helping teammate Dylan van Baarle to overall victory.

His first pro victory came on a stage of the Tour of the Alps in April, and Sivakov showed maturity far beyond his years to hold on to the leader's jersey he took after the stage win all the way to the finish.

He was then handed co-leadership at the Giro d'Italia with Tao Geoghegan Hart after Egan Bernal – who was due to be the team's leader for the Italian Grand Tour – crashed during training just a week before the start, ruling the Colombian out.

While Geoghegan Hart crashed out on stage 13 after a promising start, Sivakov relished the opportunity to step up once more, holding the white jersey as the race's best young rider for a time, and eventually taking ninth place overall – a phenomenal result for any rider's second – and first-finished – Grand Tour.

"I had a really good winter in Australia. I was out there for six weeks, training and racing. It was completely different to last year, when I struggled for three months with an injury," Sivakov explained.

"I could really feel that I'd stepped up at the beginning of the season. It's been a really good year for me."

Riding with Geoghegan Hart

As was the case at the Tour of the Alps and the Giro d'Italia, Sivakov shared leadership duties at the Tour de Pologne with British teammate Geoghegan Hart. Any teething problems that there may have been during the Tour of the Alps appear to now be well and truly ironed out, with the pair leading a new generation – which includes 22-year-old Tour de France winner Bernal – at the British WorldTour team.

At the Tour of the Alps back in April, Sivakov admitted to an element of healthy rivalry within the team with Geoghegan Hart, and the British climber admitted the same thing.

Fast-forward four months, and the pair were rooming together at the Tour de Pologne, with Geoghegan Hart again playing a fundamental part in Sivakov's victory.

"Tao and I get on well," Sivakov said. "We were sharing a room in Poland and it's a really good relationship. What he did for me in the Alps and now in Poland, I'm really grateful for that, and if I have to do something for him in the future, I will never hesitate."

Tour of Britain-bound

Sivakov is now set to ride the Deutschland Tour later this month, followed by the Tour of Britain in the build-up to the world championships that also take place in Yorkshire, in late September.

"I should be at the start for Tour of Britain, and I think that's the perfect preparation for the Worlds on similar roads in the same country," he said. "I've never done the Tour of Britain but obviously on this team I've heard good things about it."

What is certain, however, is that Sivakov won't ride this year's Vuelta, having already done one Grand Tour this year. Geoghegan Hart is expected to lead Team Ineos at the final Grand Tour of the season. 

"Guys who are good in Poland usually do the Vuelta, but I spoke with the team, and we decided that it would be better this year to just stick with the Giro and finish the season with some other good races," Sivakov said.

"I'm only 22 at the moment, and I will have the time to do two Grand Tours in a season across my career. It's better to back off a little now – although that's hard to do. When things are going well, it's easy to get carried away and do too much. I'll have a good programme and end the season with a good amount of race days. I think it's the right decision not to race the Vuelta," said Sivakov.

Remembering Bjorg Lambrecht

After winning last week's Tour de Pologne, Sivakov dedicated the victory to Lotto Soudal's Bjorg Lambrecht, who died after a crash on stage 3 of the race.

"It was such sad news. It was hard for everybody there at the race," said Sivakov.

"He was a really good talent and a really good guy. I wouldn't say that I knew him really well, but I raced a lot with him. We are the same age and he was my biggest rival in 2017, in my last year as an under-23. In all of the big stage races that year we were always fighting for the victory and I've been thinking about those races a lot over the last few days.

"When I heard the news… It wasn't easy. It's so sad for cycling to lose Bjorg," Sivakov concluded.

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