By Gregor Brown
Winner of Tour Méditerranéen stage three and Trofeo Laigueglia, Mikhail Ignatiev, was only recently added to the Tinkoff Credit Systems line-up for Milan-San Remo after having indicated earlier that he would not race. After watching the 21 year-old Russian rocket off the peloton in the closing kilometres of Laigueglia and holding his own to victory, many sprinters view him as a serious threat to a bunch finish.
'Misha', an Olympic gold medallist in the points race, is currently in Greece, but is expected to fly to Milan on Friday Morning. "He is now training with the national team in Greece for the Track World Championships, but he really wanted to take part in the Milan-San Remo," commented Tinkoff General Manager Stefano Feltrin to Cyclingnews on Thursday. "We let him work on a dual schedule, and so we arranged a special flight to have him at the race, arriving tomorrow, Friday. He will be able to participate in San Remo and then fly to Mallorca."
The team is very happy with Misha and also Pavel Brutt. Both Russians have scored two wins a piece this season and, with the addition of the six other riders, Feltrin explained it will be a strong San Remo line-up.
"For the race, the 'leader' will be the team, a strong team, which will take all the opportunities that come up. Pavel had a little fever at Tirreno-Adriatico and we had him stop to save himself for San Remo."
Feltrin commented on the length of La Classicissima and how it will affect the team strategy. "San Remo is a unique race and it will be hard to know who will feel the best after 180 kilometres. They will talk amongst themselves and see who has the best chances." But surely the team, and its rivals, will be watching out for Misha.
The Tinkoff team for Milano-San Remo, (Complete start list here.): Elio Aggiano (Ita), Pavel Brutt (Rus), Salvatore Commesso (Ita), Vasil Kiryienka (Blr), Daniele Contrini (Ita), Anton Mindlin (Rus), Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) and Ricardo Serrano (Spa).
Read Cyclingnews' recent interview with Mikhail Ignatiev, The first of many more to come for Ignatiev