By Gregor Brown
Tinkoff. Credit Systems' rider Mikhail Ignatiev, racing for the national squad these days, took silver in Under-23 category individual time trial held on the opening day of the Worlds in Stuttgart. Being a double junior World Champion and a winner of gold and silver in the next age group, the Russian was logically considered one of the top favourites in this event. At the first time check Ignatiev took the leadership eight seconds ahead of Dutchman Lars Boom. On the finish line, though, the rider from Holland took over; the final gap was just nine seconds; perhaps, the technically demanding course was cut out better for Boom, who already took the rainbow jersey earlier this year in the Cyclo-Cross World Championships.
Ignatiev shared his view of the race with Tinkoff's press officer, Sergey Kurdyukov and Cyclingnews.
"I wouldn't call myself exactly a success as I always aim to win in a race like this. But, strictly speaking, this time I didn't have the full right to aim as high as I severely pulled a muscle in my leg about a month ago. It told on my training pretty dramatically, and I raced all these weeks just to keep myself in form with no ambition. Taking all of that into consideration, I'd call today's performance rather satisfactory."
Ignatiev mentioned that there was another factor that impeded his ability to fully concentrate on his own performance. "As you've seen, as soon as I overtook the Italian who started a minute earlier [Adriano Malori] he hung behind me, then tried to get back to the front; these manoeuvres didn't help the concentration at all."
Ignatiev has had a good year, and did well especially in time trial. In the Vuelta a Burgos, he got second behind Valverde, while he won the time trial in the Regio Tour, which also had some climbing in it. At the time he told Cyclingnews before the race that he he didn't think he could win it, as he preferred a flatter course. But now, he summed up, "All in all, this season was definitely good, but I already started to look forward to next year. I'm absolutely set to be on top for the Olympics; track races hold the best chance for me; if my form really hits the highest point, I'll think about the individual time trial on the road--still, I can't say how likely [it is] I am going to contest it."
Tinkoff. Credit Systems owner Oleg Tinkov followed his rider in the team car, but acknowledged to Cyclingnews that getting there was tough. "I came here just for a day to see Misha riding. Business doesn't give me much freedom at the moment, so I took the plane in the morning, but much later than I'd have liked, as I got caught in heavy traffic back in Moscow. Dmitri Konychev drove me to the course just five minutes before Ignatiev's start time. I found him in good spirits, ready to fight. Then I jumped into the car and off we went."
Tinkov added that he likes following his rider in the time trials and he can well judge Ignatiev's performances."It was for the fourth time that I accompanied Misha during a time trial, so it turned out no problem for me to see that he was not at his very best in this race. He didn't look quite a picture of absolute power while pedaling. There was an injury to blame, of course, and the course was too winding to his liking; the Italian was rather annoying, too. But, apart from all that, there was a problem of overdoing it all. Ignatiev didn't have a thorough rest for about twelve months, he started winning already during the Track World Cup Moscow leg. You can't run after everything, he has to take it into account in the future."
The manager of the team confirmed that Ignatiev's season was very good and that Tinkov was happy "He's had a great season with five spectacular victories in some top-level races. Yet it makes me sad to think that a talent like him bids farewell to under-23 category on a double silver note, so to speak. On the other hand, perhaps the Saturday's road race has something in store for him. I wish I could give Mikhail all of my support, but business is business, so I have to be away. Still, I'll be with him on the road, in my heart."