The talents of Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) were revealed yesterday when he dashed away shortly after Alassio to arrive solo ahead of the charging peloton in the 44th Trofeo Laigueglia. He was the first Russian to add his names to the race's palmarès, and, like Lance Armstrong in 1993, he took victory at a young age, 21.
The tenacity of "Misha" was already there, as evident by his seven world titles and Gold medal in the 2004 Olympic points race. In 2006 he continued to blossom. "Two wins and the final classification in [Volta Ciclista Internacional a] Lleida, Spain. Another win near Bilbao. And then I went well at the Under-23 Worlds in Salzburg," the rider from Saint Petersburg noted to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
His win in Laigueglia was similar to his victory five days earlier in stage 3 of the Tour Méditerranéen, sneaking off the front in the closing kilometres and then using his huge engine to keep clear. "I have never been a sprinter," he explained after his second victory of 2007. "My tactic? It is easy; to take off and then I defend to death." Teammate Ricardo Serrano added, "The truth is that when everyone is going all out, at the maximum, he escapes."
Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital), winner of the 2006 edition, confirmed the young Russian's potential. "At the Tour Méditerranéen he revealed to me his personality," he explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He only has to better his tactics; careful not to waste energy. But you can see that he already has a lot [of talent and tactics]."
The Russian, who speaks English and some Italian, has moved his base from Spain to Marina di Massa, Italy. Along with the other Russians, he trains and lives in a quality environment. "There are four riders in a red house, two in an apartment, myself and Nikolai Trussov in another. There is good weather and great areas for training," he noted. "In the morning I eat cereal, nothing for lunch, risotto and salad for dinner. The rule: if you train little then you eat little. So, to eat a lot, I train a lot."
He confirmed his schedule for the upcoming months, which includes track racing. He will race the track World Championships in Palma de Mallorca, and then start to focus on the Giro d'Italia. "No Sanremo," Misha concluded.