Kolobnev welcomes Cipollini’s input, will target Classics and Tour de France
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kolobnev welcomes Cipollini’s input, will target Classics and Tour de France

by Conal Andrews at 4:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Russian frustrated over Olympic medal delay

Alexandr KolobnevRussian rider Alexander Kolobnev is anticipating a big season for Team Katusha in 2011, and says that the signing of Mario Cipollini as consultant to the team is a factor in that. Cipollini was confirmed last month as becoming part of the squad, with the multiple Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España stage winner commissioned to work with the Russian riders on the squad.

However it appears that his scope is wider than that, and the whole team is benefiting. “Mario Cipollini´s incorporation is very positive, not only because of his work with the sprinters developing new tactics, training and coaching, but also because he is available for all of us,” said Kolobnev.

Because of that and because of what he saw at the team’s pre-season training camp in Calpe, Spain, he is feeling upbeat about what lies ahead. He describes the team as “stronger and more compact,” and believes that the “new riders will fortify Purito Rodríguez´s work with a view to general classifications. Riders as Ivanov and Karpets are really motivated for the beginning of the season. We will try to achieve the first victory as soon as possible.”

Unlike his fellow Russians, Kolobnev will hold back in the first races. He broke a bone in his foot last month and while it has not affected his training, he said that he is intentionally building to do something a little later. “I hope to be in a good shape in March and April. I´ll work really hard for the Classics and then I´ll get prepared for the Tour. Right now, that is the only three week-race I´ll compete in.”

2010 saw him clock up some good results, including second behind Alexandre Vinkourov in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, first in the Russian road race championships and seventh in the worlds in Geelong. He was one of the most aggressive riders in the closing laps and would have been closer to a medal had the final run-in to the line been tougher. As a rider who has twice finished second in the worlds, he is likely to have been frustrated by how things went.

A bigger source of frustration is the Olympic bronze medal he is due from Beijing 2008. He was originally fourth in the race but the disqualification of Davide Rebellin for doping moves him up a place and onto the podium. Yet while Fabian Cancellara received his medal last week (and had a bridge in his town named after him), Kolobnev is still waiting.

The medal was handed to the Russian Olympic committee several weeks ago, yet it looks likely he won’t receive it until January 26th. The ceremony will take place as part of the team’s presentation in Moscow, finally bringing to an end the saga of the Olympic road race.

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