Kolobnev targeting London 2012, pleased by form on return to competition
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kolobnev targeting London 2012, pleased by form on return to competition

by Shane Stokes at 7:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Belgium, Olympics
“The most important objective of course is the Olympic Games”

Alexander KolobnevOut of action since last year’s Tour de France, Alexander Kolobnev has said that he is motivated after a strong showing in his first race back.

The Katusha rider was ninth on the final stage of the Tour of Belgium, finishing eleven seconds behind the day’s winner Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Acqua & Sapone) at Engis. The placing was a solid one in itself, but doesn’t give the full picture.

“I was able to create a break away of five riders with twenty kilometres to go, drop them and was caught by the group with just 300m remaining,” he told VeloNation today. “I was close to taking a victory in my first race. So I would say I am on right track to get back to winning.”

Twice second in the world road race championships and third in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, his career was placed on immediate hold last July 11th when it was announced that Kolobnev had provided a positive A sample for the diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide.

Under WADA rules, Hydrochlorothiazide is listed as a specified substance and carries a possible sanction ranging from a warning to a two year suspension. Kolobnev claimed he didn’t intentionally take the diuretic and, ruling on the case in October, the Russian federation decided that he was not responsible. It gave him a warning and a fine of 1,500 Swiss francs.

The UCI appealed this in early December, but CAS subsequently ruled that the rider had committed no deliberate fault and that the Russian decision should stand. It decided that he had been taking the product Kapilar as a legitimate treatment for the condition varix dilation, something he had suffered from for fifteen years, and that the positive test had resulted from contamination of that substance.

Although its roster was full, Katusha subsequently received a derogation from the UCI to enable Kolobnev to re-sign with it.

Kolobnev was eligible to race from the moment CAS decided that the Russian Federation’s decision was the correct one. That ruling was made on February 29th, but it was over two months later before he put a race number on his jersey again.

The delay was due to a training ride crash which tore his rectus femoris and while he had surgery to help his recovery, he still faced a period of time away from competition.

As the break was the longest he had had since turning professional, he admitted that he had some doubts about how he would get on. “A couple of weeks before first start I was a bit worried how it will be,” he said. “But this feeling disappeared during some tough training. I had training camp in altitude where I could do good work in order be in good shape for the first race. And it wasn't for nothing, as that Tour of Belgium stage showed.”

Despite the good performance, Kolobnev knows that he’s several months behind the other riders in terms of racing mileage. He wants to try to catch up and thus raise his form, and is receiving help from his team in that regard.

“I have asked to do as many races as possible in order to get back my rhythm,” he said. “My calendar is Trofeo Melinda, Gp D'Argovie, Tour de Swiss, National Championship, either the Tour de France or the Tour of Poland - we have to decide – then the Olympic Games.”

Psyched to improve on his bronze medal of four years ago, everything is building towards that target. “The most important objective of course is the Olympic Games. I am building up my race schedule and training program to be there on my best shape. Then we will see.”


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