Alexey Lutsenko needs to be Asia’s first elite males’s world champion

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Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan) needs to make historical past as Asia’s first elite males’s street biking world champion.

The Kazakh rider has his eyes set on what’s prone to be a rolling classics-style course in Glasgow on the UCI’s first-ever ‘tremendous worlds’ in August. Lutsenko already has a rainbow jersey to his identify within the U23 males’s street race in 2012, however he needs the massive one.

If he can ship himself to the highest step of the rostrum this summer time, he can be the primary Asian rider to win an elite males’s world title of any sort. It will even be, in idea, Asia’s first elite males’s medal on condition that Russia is registered with the European federation.

“For me, it might be one thing particular. It’s a particular jersey with particular feelings,” Lutsenko informed VeloNews through a workforce translator. “For me, it’s extra particular to win the world championships than to win the rest as a result of, for those who win, in any respect the opposite races you go along with this particular jersey with particular graphics. Even for those who lose your jersey the following yr, you continue to have the rainbow bands in your jersey for the remainder of your profession.”

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Lutsenko appeared like he is likely to be heading in the right direction to not less than rating Asia’s first medal within the elite males’s street race eventually yr’s worlds in Wollongong, Australia till he dramatically blew with 25km to go. A blistering Remco Evenepoel dropped the Kazakh rider on a climb on the penultimate lap of the race, having made the preliminary assault that drew Evenepoel clear.

He would finally end towards the again of a 32-rider group that crossed the road over two minutes down on the triumphant Evenepoel. Having felt so tantalizingly near a doable rainbow jersey, Lutsenko was left questioning what may need been had he performed it in another way.

“I used to be tremendous prepared, and I used to be in fine condition and every little thing, however now, trying again, I made a mistake after I went with Remco, and I instantly began to work. I believe that if I had the time to relaxation, I might have been stronger within the ultimate,” he mentioned.

The world championships are nearer than standard, which implies making some completely different selections to make it possible for he’s prepared for it. The boys’s street race in Glasgow comes simply two weeks after the Tour de France concludes in Paris on July 23.

With Miguel Ángel López ousted from the Astana-Qazaqstan workforce over the winter, there’s extra deal with Lutsenko to carry out and the administration needs him to go to the Tour. After a difficult begin to final season — which noticed him lose a lot of the spring by way of sickness and harm — Lutsenko rode to ninth place on the 2022 Tour de France, one place decrease than his career-best end the yr earlier than.

Lutsenko believes he has the aptitude to enhance on that, nevertheless it’s but to be determined what his goal can be this summer time.

“For the second at this Tour de France, it relies on what the purpose of the workforce can be, whether or not or not I am going for the GC or go for phases or use it as a preparation for the world championships. Generally, possibly if I may change one thing, possibly make a step ahead, I believe I may attain the highest 5 or the highest three.”

Requested whether or not he’d choose to have a punt on the common classification or stage victories, Lutsenko had a easy reply.

“Levels,” he responded instantly in English earlier than reverting again to Russian. “To win a stage, is a outcome that will at all times be in historical past however high 5 is simply high 5, and no one will learn about it sooner or later.”

He’s already acquired one Tour stage victory beneath his belt after claiming the stage 6 Mont Aigoual finale in the course of the 2020 race. The potential presence of Mark Cavendish on the Tour de France this summer time may assist Lutsenko out getting the liberty to go for a stage win.

Quick vehicles and paintball

Regardless of being one of many high GC riders within the peloton, his restricted English implies that he hardly ever talks with the English-speaking press. He does communicate some Italian as it’s the workforce’s second language, however his interview with VeloNews is performed in Russian by way of a translator, with the occasional interjection from Lutsenko in English.

He’s a jocular character but he doesn’t give an excessive amount of away in a few of his solutions.

Lutsenko acquired into biking whereas rising up in Bolshaya Malyshka within the North of Kazakhstan. He began biking at a younger age however didn’t have his personal bike till a coach from a regional sport college persuaded him to hitch when he was round 12.

“I used to be dwelling in a small village and my first coach got here to the village and I ended up going to a sport college,” Lutsenko mentioned. “I used to be from a really small village, so I didn’t have a bicycle of my very own and that’s why I made a decision to try to do biking on the college. I may see that my outcomes have been getting higher and higher, so I made a decision to keep it up.

“My first race was a mountain bike race out within the countryside, and I gained it. It was on a standard bike, although, not a mountain bike. It was laborious, nevertheless it was a brief race.”

Most of Lutsenko’s time away from the bike is spent working round after his three younger youngsters, however his different passions embody driving sports activities vehicles, journey, and an annual sport of paintball.

“I wish to play paintball, however I solely do it every year as a result of afterward the entire physique is de facto hurting,” he laughed.

Rising Kazakh biking scene

With the performances of riders like Lutsenko, biking is turning into an more and more fashionable sport in Kazakhstan.

Yevgeniy Fedorov, who’s shut pals with Lutsenko, adopted in his footsteps by profitable the U23 street race world title in Australia final yr. With three Continental groups registered within the nation, together with the official Astana-Qazaqstan growth workforce and the Vino Sko Staff run by Astana-Qazaqstan workforce boss Alexandr Vinokourov, Kazakh biking is in an excellent place.

“In Kazakhstan, I actually see quite a lot of proficient younger riders arising from the following technology. There are riders who may very well be good within the classics and within the GC,” Lutsenko mentioned. “For certain, this technology must work with trainers and coaches. With my expertise of 11 years in skilled biking, I now see quite a lot of younger abilities.

“Federov is from Kazakhstan and we now have a number of different riders, too. It’s all about work and it’s good that we now have a WorldTour workforce that’s making a big effect within the growth of biking in Kazakhstan.”

Whereas the Astana-Qazaqstan workforce remains to be a comparatively current creation after it first began racing in 2007, Lutsenko nonetheless had some dwelling heroes to cheer and look as much as as an aspiring bike rider — his workforce supervisor Vinokurov and Vuelta a España stage winner Andrey Kashechkin. Nevertheless, each riders bumped into bother with the anti-doping authorities with the pair being achieved for blood doping in 2007.

“Once I was rising up, I went to the game college, and I noticed the portrait of Alexandr Vinokurov. My coach mentioned that he was the satisfaction of Kazakhstan,” Lutsenko mentioned. “Once I noticed his image, it was sort of an inspiration as a result of we’re additionally from the identical space in Kazakhstan, neighboring villages. The opposite Kazakh rider that was going effectively on the time was Andrey Kashechkin. For certain, I used to be cheering for them and I loved watching them.”

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