As well as signing for the Rusvelo team for the 2014 season, Sergey Lagutin has revealed that he will now ride under a Russian licence instead of an Uzbek one. Lagutin is a seven-time Uzbekistan national champion and won the under-23 world championships road race in Uzbek colours in Hamilton in 2003.
Lagutin was left without a team following the disbandment of the Vacansoleil-DCM team at the end of last season. The 32-year-old initially hoped to find a place on Katusha for 2014, but with their roster filled, he was pointed in the direction of their associated Pro Continental team, Rusvelo.
“I was in contact with two teams and both of them asked me to wait until September but I wasn’t happy with that kind of situation,” Lagutin told R-Sport. “But I also spoke with Viatcheslav Ekimov, who told me that there wasn’t any space at that time at Katusha, and advised me to contact Renat Khamidulin at Rusvelo.”
Lagutin’s meeting with Khamidulin convinced him not only to sign for the Pro Continental outfit but also that he wanted to “represent Russia on the international arena.”
“Renat invited me to visit the team’s base on Lake Garda and made a mini presentation for me. It was a very professional approach and I realised that I was not going to feel like a foreigner as I did on the Dutch teams, where priority was given to local riders.” Lagutin said. “At the Rusvelo team, I’ll be treated as an athlete with experience and I will have a chance to contribute to the project.”
After the high of his 5th place finish at the 2012 Olympic Games road race, the 2013 season was by Lagutin’s own admission the worst of his career. “My shape was good but the results just never came,” said Lagutin, who is already looking ahead to his 2014 targets.
“I hope Rusvelo can get invitations to WorldTour races. Personally, I love the Tour of the Basque Country, the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour of Poland, but the main goal for me next season will be the Russian national championships.”