Pavel Sivakov always seemed destined for great things after winning so much and so well as an under-23 rider but he confirmed he can win as a professional at the Tour of the Alps. In doing so, he added his name alongside Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert, Egan Bernal, Bjorn Lambrecht and Tadej Pogacar in the list of next generation riders seemingly destined to dominate racing in the next decade.
Sivakov stands out because of his height, his similarities to Chris Froome and his pedigree, and also because he is already successful even though he is still only 21 years old. He is three years younger than van der Poel and six months younger than Bernal. Only Ivan Sosa is a few months younger on the Team Sky roster.
Sivakov is destined to go down in Team Sky's record book as their last stage race winner and follows in the footstep of Riche Porte, Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas as a Team Sky winner of the Tour of the Alps. Like them, he will surely go on to be a Grand Tour contender, quietly nudging Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas towards retirement.
Sivakov's pedigree indicates greatness
He races under a Russian flag but is very European and extrovert. He was born in Italy and was raised near Toulouse, France, because his father Andrei raced the Tour de France three times for BigMat-Auber 93 and his mother, Aleksandra Kolisseva, twice finished second in the Giro Rosa. He is a powerful time triallist, solid in the mountains, skilled on descents, and is pretty fast in small group sprints. His power and maturity perhaps gave him an edge against his younger peers but he has matured.
He captured the Junior Tour of Flanders in 2015, finished second in the 2016 under-23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and was 15th in that year's under-23 Paris-Roubaix. In 2017, Sivakov won the under-23 Giro d'Italia, the prestigious Ronde de l'Isard and the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc. He was the jewel in the crown of the BMC Development team but then Team Sky convinced him to join them instead of stepping up to the BMC WorldTour squad.
Sivakov seems capable of doing it all and has now experienced success, even if it meant a final day of stress at the Tour of the Alps.
"It was a stressful day because the break got a big advantage and Fausto Masnada was virtual leader but I never had any doubts in my team and knew they’d get it back and I’d win the GC," Sivakov explained, with the confidence of youth and talent.
He celebrated by punching the air as he crossed the line in the slipstream of teammate and fellow prodigy Tao Geoghegan Hart, who had so skillfully guided him and protected him during the five stages of the Tour of the Alps.
"You work hard for these moments. The team worked hard for me and so it was good we all got pay them back. It’s actually difficult to understand my performance because I was there with guys like Nibali right to the end," Sivakov explained.
Sivakov will form part of the Team Ineos squad for the Giro d'Italia built on youthful talent and built around Bernal. He is naturally ambitious but knows he cannot quite expect to be a leader for only his second Grand Tour.
"Obviously I feel I'm in really good shape and ready to go for the Giro but I think Egan is one step higher, especially in the high mountains and the Giro will be decided in the high mountains," he said.
"Maybe I'll have a role at the end of the team but not much else will change. Egan has shown a few times he can be there in big, big races a few times, so I think he’s going to be the leader.
"Performing well here at the Tour of the Alps is good for moral and we know that if you’re good here, you can do well in the Giro. We’re going to the Giro for Egan but if you know you’re strong, you can do a good job and also learning how to do it. I think it’s important for me to learn for the future and to do well individually and has a whole team."