The first of many more to come for Ignatiev

Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) happy

Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) happy (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mikhail Ignatiev blasted onto the road racing scene this year with a stage win in Tour Méditerranéen and victory in the prestigious Trofeo Laigueglia, but the 21 year-old Russian was already marked for greatness when he scored a gold medal on the track in the 2004 Olympic points race. "Misha" detailed his successes to Sergey Kurdyukov and Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown, and described what it will take before he considers himself an accomplished professional.

At the tender age of eighteen, Mikhail Ignatiev took Olympic gold for his country on the track in Athens. The Russian used sheer strength and force of will to follow every attack in the Olympic points race, in the end gaining four laps on the field and bested seasoned trackies like Juan Llaneras and Greg Henderson. Ignatiev has set out to prove that this magical day on August 24 was no fluke, and has continued to build himself on the road.

Ignatiev has used his immense power and huge tolerance for pain to great success in years after the Olympics, taking the 2005 Under 23 Time Trial World Championship title in Madrid, and continuing to pummel the competition with brute force on the track, where he and partner Nikolai Trussov won the Sydney world cup Madison in 2006.

Also in 2006, Ignatiev took his showcase style on the road, riding for Tinkoff Restaurants. He took "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 [taking silver to Dominique Cornu in the time trial -ed.]," the rider from Saint Petersburg noted to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Ignatiev showed obvious promise, and when Oleg Tinkov invested more money to bump the team from Continental to Professional Continental status, he ensured there was a spot for his young prodigy.

From the beginning of the 2007 season, 'Misha' did not disappoint. In the Tour Méditerranéen he caught the sprinters at the right moment and blasted off the hard-charging peloton with 11 kilometres remaining to Marseille. His track skills came in handy as he put his head down and barreled towards the line, holding off the bunch, lead by Daniele Bennati of Lampre-Fondital, by 14 seconds.

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