I started in road cycling when bikes had toe clips and downtube friction shifters, tires were glued onto rims, and frames were built from steel. I rode in wool shorts and cotton jerseys, raced in hairnet helmet and thought a six-speed sprocket cluster was a game changer.
I was fortunate to work with some amazing coaches. One of them, Yuri Elizarov — a true visionary — attempted to revolutionize road cycling training. What you see Team Sky is doing today, he tried to do in 1982 in a different social and political environment.
The Titan project he started involved more than 60 people: riders, coaches, mechanics, masseurs (soigners), drivers, doctors and scientists. Titan was probably the first professional cycling team in the world to own a custom built team bus. The project had ties with military and high ranked government officials for financial and logistics support. Its aim was to design a system for producing world class cyclists capable of winning Olympic and world championship medals.
A few months after I joined Titan, I sat down with Elizarov to discuss my goals for the next season. When I left that meeting, I was convinced he was mad. He told me I had to win, not just “do well”, some key national-level races, qualify for the national team and win a Junior World Championship. He wasn’t talking about my goals in general terms, he was specific and logical. I thought he was mad because, at the time, I have never raced at national level, had no idea what it’s like to race against the best, and didn’t believe I could do what he was talking about anyway. But he did.
Nine months later I stood atop of a podium in a rainbow jersey, in disbelief. All because one man had a vision and decided to try it out in real life.
That jersey opened a door for me to the elite national team where I was surrounded by the giants of Soviet road cycling. I was rubbing shoulders with Olympic and world champions, ate dinners at the same table with Peace Race winners and shared rooms with guys I watched on TV. Abdoujaparov was a 20-year-old promising sprinter and Tchmil wasn’t even noticed yet by this team. I realized I was inside of a well constructed, tried and tested champion producing machine.
8 years ago I decided to create a blog about that machine. I think the story of Soviet road cycling is worth sharing and this blog is where I’m going to do it.
A few words of caution though.
I speak from my own experience and do not claim to know everything about road cycling. I talk about what I’ve done, what I’ve seen, what I’ve experienced in more than 35 years of riding and racing bikes on 3 different continents. I hope this experience and knowledge can give you more insight into our sport.
I’m not going to tell you how to get fit, fast and powerful on a 6 hour per week training regime. I think road cycling is a sport that demands considerable time investment if you want to find out what you’re capable of. There are no short cuts. Or at least I don’t think they work on the long run.
I’m a strong believer in “less is more” approach in life as well as in sport. Like most cyclists, I love bling. Those $15,000 bikes look the business but I believe it’s the cyclist who runs the show, not the bike.
I know I have a story to tell. It may not be the most glorious story about winning the greatest races on earth, but I believe it’s a story worth telling. I want to do it the right way without spoiling it by fluffed up advertorials and hard sells. It is what it is and I’ll tell it the way I see it.
Thank you for reading this. Feel free to email me with any questions you might have.