Tvetcov: I have more potential to grow as a rider

Serghei Tvetcov's three-year run through the US domestic peloton from 2012 through 2014 culminated with a string of success that propelled him to Europe and a Pro Continental contract. Now after two years of plying the trade in relative anonymity with the Italian Androni Giacattoli team, he'll return to the States next year looking to get back on the winning track.

Jelly Belly-Maxxis announced last week that the US Continental team had signed Tevtcov, who rode with the team in 2013 and 2014, for next season. In the same announcement in which the team said goodbye to Tour of Utah winner Lachlan Morton, who signed with Dimension Data for next year, Jelly Belly welcomed Tvetcov back into the fold. In Morton, Jelly Belly lost the rider who scored the team's biggest ever win, and in Tvetcov the team is getting the rider who'd previously held that distinction.

"I am very excited to come back with new experience and goals, especially in the team where I had great support from everyone," Tvetcov told Cyclingnews last week.

Tvetcov started his professional career in 2008 with Team Olimpic Autoconstruct of Romania. He moved to the Romanian Tusnad Cycling team before emigrating to the US in 2011 and joining an amateur team in Georgia. Team Exergy picked him up in 2012, but when the team folded in the offseason, he moved on to Jelly Belly for 2013.

After a successful first year with Jelly Belly, which included the overall win at the Cascade Cycling Classic and second place in a stage of the Tour of Alberta, Tvetcov picked up his rate of podium appearances throughout North America in 2014. He was a threat to take any time trial he entered, winning the Tour of the Gila time trial stage and finishing 12th in Folsom at the Tour of California a week later. Tvetcov finished third overall at the Tour de Beauce in June after crashing hard during the opening stage of the Canadian UCI 2.2 race.

In July of 2014, Tvetcov won the overall at the Cascade Cycling Classic for the second year in a row on the strength of stage wins in the time trial and criterium. He finished in the top 10 three times at the Tour of Utah in August, then finished outside the top 10 only once on his way to third overall at the USA Pro Challenge behind Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp).

Tvetcov's versatility was especially on display in Colorado; he was ninth during the infamously muddy second stage into Crested Butte, third at the summit finish on the top of Monarch Mountain, third again in the field sprint during the circuit race in Colorado Springs, seventh during the stage from Woodland Park to Breckenridge, third again during the Vail time trial, and fourth in the sprint finish at the end of the final stage in Denver.

Tvetcov finished his last season with Jelly Belly by placing sixth overall at the Tour of Alberta after narrowly missing out on winning the opening time trial to Tom Dumoulin, who was then an up-and-coming rider for Giant-Shimano.

The consistent success throughout 2014 led to a two-year deal with Androni Giacattoli, the Italian team run by legendary manager Gianni Savio. In his two years with the team, Tvetcov won the Romanian time trial title twice and the road race in 2015. He also won a time trial stage at the Tour of Szeklerland in 2015, finishing third overall in the Romanian race and in the Sibiu Cycling Tour a month earlier.

Tvetcov finished his only Grand Tour in 2015 at the Giro d'Italia, but in general, he was never able to match his American success on the more crowded and competitive European stage. Results were even harder to come by in 2016. Aside from the Romanian time trial title, Tvetcov's best results came at the Tour of Bihor-Bellotto, where he finished fifth overall, a fifth-place finish in the individual time trial at Tour of Qinghai Lake, and 20th overall at the Giro della Toscana in September. He ended his contract with Androni with a string of DNFs at Italian one-day races.

Looking ahead to 2017

The 27-year-old, who switched his nationality from Moldovan to Romanian in 2014, said he relishes his time riding some of the world's biggest races with Androni, and you get the feeling he has more to prove when it comes to racing.

"It was great two years spent in the big team and doing big races like Giro d'Italia and Milan-San Remo," he said. "In my opinion cycling is a super endurance sport where when you get older you get stronger, like tactically, mentally and, of course, physically. I feel like a have more potential to grow as a rider even in next few years."

Tevtcov said he has spoken briefly with Jelly Belly director Danny Van Haute about races he'll want to target and his responsibilities within the team, and he expects his schedule will include the big North American races, select national calendar events and maybe some racing in Asia.

"I had great experience in past years in those races," he said. "I'd really like to focus on doing my best, especially at races like Gila, Redlands and Cascade, which fit me great with time trials and some climbing stages."

Although the USA Pro Challenge is gone and it's still not certain if US Continental teams are eligible for invitations to the Tour of California in the race's inaugural WorldTour year, new races in Colorado and Virginia hold the promise of new goals for an opportunistic rider like Tvetcov.

"I was very glad to see there are new races coming for next year," he said. "It's a new opportunity to show good results for the team and for myself." 

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