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“Honestly I did not expect I could win this race. Yes, I wanted to be in form here and wanted to fight for the top 5. During the race I did my best, especially yesterday and today in the time trial."

Photo: Sirotti

ILNUR ZAKARIN

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TOUR DE ROMANDIE

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03.05.2015 @ 17:59 Posted by Andy Pedersen

It was nothing short of a dominating performance by Team Katusha this week in the 69th Tour de Romandie. Russian Ilnur Zakarin, 25, took the overall win and the yellow jersey and was joined on the podium by teammate Simon Špilak in second place.

 

It was Sunday’s final 17,3 km individual time trial that provided the most drama in Lausanne, with Zakarin needing a bike change in the final part of the time trial as he was on target to challenge Tony Martin for the stage victory. A quick swap of the bike and Zakarin was back on track, taking third for the stage behind Martin and Špilak, but more importantly holding 17-seconds to Spilak to win the general classification. Christopher Froome took the third spot in the classification.

 

“Normally I like the TT races and I have had some good results. But during the last two years, step-by-step I have tried to improve my abilities as a climber. It was a hard way to do it but I lost maybe 10 kg to get more speed in the mountains. Of course when you improve in one area you lose in another, but later there is a chance to find a good balance. Now I am there, but I see a lot of things to improve. I want to continue my development as a rider,” said Ilnur Zakarin.

 

Zakarin was the Russian ITT champion in 2013 and a member of the Russian National Team. In 2014 he had strong results before moving up to the WorldTour Team Katusha this season, taking the GC in the Grand Prix of Adygeya, Tour d’Azerbaidjan and Grand Prix of Sochi all while he raced for the Rusvelo pro-continental team. His performance in both the mountains and the time trial show great potential in the young Russian.

 

Asked about the necessary bike change Ilnur Zakarin explained what happened:

 

“The bike change was my mistake. At the top of the climb I had to slow my pace a little bit and not push so hard on the pedals to change the gear. But I pushed it too hard and the chain got stuck. But the mechanics did a perfect job and changed my bike very fast.”

 

“There was no panic when we had to change bikes. Everything was organized. We had the spare bike and we changed it very quickly probably in no more than 15-seconds. We already knew that Ilnur was good at the time trial but you put somebody in a yellow jersey and it changes him. For some it makes them worse but for others it makes them better. He switched on for the better. I think for this year we have to be happy with his good result as it met his goal and now he goes to the Giro d’Italia for experience. I think it’s very important for him to go to this race and see how he does in a three week race. Here in Romandie we have almost all the jerseys and the team classification, too. We’re very lucky with the group of riders at this race as they came in prepared and got the results.  Many of them will go to the Giro and we will hope for more results from there,” said Dmitry Konyshev.

 

“Honestly I did not expect I could win this race. Yes, I wanted to be in form here and wanted to fight for the top 5. During the race I did my best, especially yesterday and today in the time trial. I worked to get the best possible result but of course this is a big surprise for me to win here. I have not analyzed the results of today’s TT and I need to do that to understand what happened. All I know, I did full gas, 100%, and now I am really happy. I want to thank my team – all the guys, the management, sports directors and staff for their support and great help. My victory is a victory of the whole team!” continued Ilnur Zakarin.

 

For Simon Špilak it was another second place in the Tour of Romandie, his third in as many years after his overall victory in 2010, but the Slovenian rider is full of joy at another victory for his Katusha team.

 

“This is crazy. I am so happy. You can say ‘2-nd again in Romandie’ but Ilnur deserves this. We are a team and the team result counts. When you see that Ilnur had to lose time by changing his bike and he still was able to win – he gets big respect. I am also very happy about my TT. We did recon this morning in the car and during the TT director Florencio coached me so well. Finishing better than Chris Froome is not bad, I think. Now again I am second, but I am very happy. What a team performance!” said Simon Špilak.

 

All week the team put up outstanding performances and earned the top honor in the team classification to validate their efforts. In addition, teammate Maxim Belkov won both the points and mountain jersey to add to the collection of prizes won by Team Katusha. The win marks the 19th victory for Team Katusha in the 2015 cycling season.

 

As result of the Tour de Romandie, Team Katusha moved up to 2nd place in the UCI WorldTour team’s classification with 828 points.

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