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Sivakov pays the price for losing weight too quickly

Pavel Sivakov at the Tour de la Provence
Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) suffering on Mont Ventoux at the Tour de la Provence (Image credit: Getty Images)

While Team Ineos could take heart from Owain Doull's stage win at the Tour de la Provence, and Eddie Dunbar's sixth place overall, there were higher expectations of Pavel Sivakov, who had been touted as a podium contender in the four-day race by team director Brett Lancaster.

However, like many before him, Sivakov suffered badly in his first experience of Mont Ventoux, losing 4:30 to Saturday's stage winner – and overall race winner – Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic).

"I was really nowhere," Sivakov said on Sunday. "I went too hard at the bottom of the climb, and when I tried to follow Quintana's attack, I cracked.

"I really wanted to show myself on the Ventoux, but when you're not feeling good, it doesn't matter which climb it is, it's always difficult.

"I'd already started to crack before his big attack," the 22-year-old said of Quintana's spectacular acceleration, "and finishing 30th or 15th doesn't change anything. I had really wanted to be up with the best, but I was empty."

According to coach Tim Kerrison, a discreet presence on 'The Giant of Provence', Sivakov may have lost weight too rapidly after his return from Australia.

"He's at a similar weight to when he won the Tour of Poland last year," Kerrison told reporters. "He really wanted to do well on the Ventoux so lost a little more weight, but maybe he did it too quickly.

"He paid for it on Saturday. It's a good lesson for young riders that you have to maintain the balance between weight and power."

Despite the setback, Sivakov says he remains on track to start the Tour de France.

"I have to be at 100 per cent in June – not before," he said. "It's always good for morale to be in form in February, but, in the end, is it the best plan if you're aiming for top form in July...?"