Maxim Gourov: A fighting spirit

    • Filled in News in English 27 Февраль 2010 в 11:50, author: Paolo
    • Views: 13 188.

    Gourov concentrates before Stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve (photo by C. Kahane)

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    Maxim Gourov is joining the Astana team for the second time in his life. He’s already a very experienced rider and we hope he’ll find himself at home on the team. I tried for two weeks to catch him, but he was moving from one place to another in training to find a place with weather that wouldn’t interfere with riding—It's not so easy in France this winter. This talk was recorded just prior to departure for Calpe training camp.

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    Maxim, hello, how is  the the mood at the beginning of the season, are you already training at top speed?

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    We have a fighting spirit, yes, we've already done good training with everybody, I’ve been in Nice, I went there with the guys, with Sergey Yakovlev, Dima (Fofonov), Valery Dmitriev—he was preparing there for the Australian race—and Sergei Ivanov arrived to train with us. And Sergei Renev, Kireyev, Nepomnyashchiy, Raimbekov, Bazza, Iglinskiy and Vino, we’ve been like a commando unit. There, near Nice, I have a favorite mountain, Col de Madone, the 13-kilometer ascent. But the weather has interfered, even the flight to Spain tomorrow was postponed due to a storm warning.

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    What races are you planning, when’s the first?

    The first will be the Tour of  the Algarve ...

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    That is, you’re going with Contador?

    Yes, I was told that I’d try to work for the leader on the flats. I’m suitable for it, my height is 189 cm and my back is broad, that’s where he can hide, so I'll try.

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    This is the work that Vaitkus and our Dima Muravyev did, being protectors in the plains from the beginning of stage ...

    Well, not only on the plains, but farther into the mountains, though in the mountains it’s quite hard for me, I’m a bit too big for mountains...

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    Will you be attached to Contador’s squad all season?

    In fact, we were told that Alberto will be experimenting with everyone to identify the best composition before the Tour.

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    Most likely, Andrey Grivko will also try this role?

    Well, let's see who we’ve got who’s large...

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    First of all - Noval, then Grivko, you ...

    Hey, that new Italian guy that’s husky ...

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    Who, Tiralongo?

    No, what are you talking about! Tiralongo - Shorty, that one, I don’t know yet how to pronounce it right - like Selvadzhi ...

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    Ah! Mirko Selvaggi! Is he that big?

    Are you crazy, he’s more than one meter ninety! Do you remember young Schar in Astana, he’s like him! Mighty guy.

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    Yes, we haven’t seen him much yet, thanks for this information!

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    But in general I have to work for the leaders, not only for Contador, but also for Vinokourov, and others. For me, I’m not the most important – whomever I work for specifically, I’m just going to do this work with all my strength, to do whatever I have to do.

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    It’s clear that the team first expects you to work for the leaders, but for yourself—are you  requesting certain races?

    Classics, I like to ride them, it seems to me that I should get some results there...

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    You rode perfectly in Tro-Bro Léon in 2008, we watched the race on Eurosport, so you can make it on the cobbles?

    Yes, that race was similar in principle to many cobblestone races, that’s why I’m anxious to try Roubaix. I’s a very beautiful race.

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    Which races suit you best?

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    Well, as we said—one-day classics, that’s for me, I like them. But I also like stage races, I just start to feel good on the fourth or fifth day, for me the race is just beginning then.

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    Then let's go farther down your calendar, what do you have after the Algarve? Have they put you on the cobbles? Or just stage races?

    Hang on, I’m looking now, but this is, you know, everything is very preliminary. In fact, the team has exact schedules only for Contador and Vinokourov, but for the rest of us, it will all change depending on various factors. So, here are some more for me: Tirreno-Adriatico, then Criterium International, Three Days of De Pann, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix...

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    Oh, well, you’re saying that you’re getting loads of cobbles!

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    Yes!

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    You’ll likely find Selvaggi there, he's also dreaming about these classics, he talks brilliantly about Flanders.

    Yes, he's raced there with the Belgians. He even takes off his gloves in training races! He said, “I want to train my hands for the Belgian frost!” Yes ... Let's go on, then I’ll do Tour of Romandie or Trentino, then—the Giro.

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    You said in 2007 that the Giro was your most memorable race with Astana.

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    Yes, so this time I hope to do well there, too.

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    But, by the way, after Astana you spent two years in the A-Style, do you consider them as—were they more of a benefit or have you lost something over the years?

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    The fact is that a lot was lost in those two years.

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    Why?

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    In 2008, there were very few races, in 2009 it was a little better, but still, in most of them, it was not top-level racing, not like Pro-Tour. Of course—it wasn’t amateur, still professional, but the level was lower. And the team itself, too, for the team there weren’t too many requirements to perform, and vice versa—I had to figure out everything myself, had to prepare and then to ask the team to be allowed to do things, that’s how it went...

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    That is, you mean you were like your own directeur sportif—this is important. But we’re used to believing that overseas professionals prepare themselves, motivate themselves, unlike ours, who are accustomed to relying on the coach…

    No, of course, directeur sportif—this is important. Like Shefer, he has experience, so he can talk, he can explain to youngsters, it’s very useful. At A-Style, by the way, we had a director from the former Besson Chaussures, he was also a formerly a director of Sergey Yakovlev, Fofonov, Belousov. He lives 30 kilometers away from me, I often train behind his scooter.

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    And what's your opinion about the fact that our boys are on our Kazakh team—is it good or are there downsides, maybe? Let's say—Dima Fofonov, so many years in Cofidis, then in Crédit Agricole, all those years he had to prove his strength, his place on the roster. And our young guys in the Kazakh team are almost guaranteed a place, are they less motivated because of that?

    I don’t think so. First, no place is guaranteed. Take the example of Berik Kupeshev, what to say ... Yes, l remember, Zhenya Sladkov and Alexei Kolesov had two-year contract, but ... with the arrival of Bruyneel we had to leave, we were pushed out to make way for ex-Discovery riders. None of us made a sound, we understood that it was for the team. Nobody will guarantee them a place in the roster, if you don't work—get off the team. Besides, remember, they ride in the same jerseys as Contador or Vinokourov, that imposes big obligations on you! You ride with them in the same race, in the same uniform, and this is the most prestigious race, so here is motivation that makes you give all your best completely. At this point, at least, you don’t let the team down, don’t let a leader down, don’t let yourself down! So, I think that Astana will not put the damper on anything. Here we have to say that Vino helps us a lot now, gives us advice. Even, if necessary, he may ... let's say…give us a scolding :). Therefore, everybody tries to do his best! 🙂

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    Well, Maxim, thank you for the interview. Thank you and Olesya, who also actively participated in the conversation! We hope that the weather is still not keeping you from getting in good training. Good luck in the new season. I think that we we’ll try not to lose contact during the season, during the races, too?

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    Yes, of course! It was pleasant to talk to you, thank you. I now only add, it’s important! Of course, I love the Giro, but I really want for once in my life to get to the Tour, too! And do the Tour well!

    Thank you, I like the way you—astanafans—work, very interesting! I read it, I come every day.

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    Well, we only have amateurs here :), we want to do everything professionally, but some people are students, some people have jobs, we have families ... But we do it for ourselves, first of all for fun, because we’re really interested in this. So let both sides develop their professionalism—you’ll do it in races, we’ll do it on the site!

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    Yeah, you caught me by surprise, too, I have a lot of thoughts and I feel there were not enough words, I don’t often give interviews!

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    Interview by Arsen Gabdullin for astanafans.com

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    On my own I want to say thanks again to Olesya Gurova for helping to "hunt" for Maxim's interview, she's an ardent fan and a fascinating personality, let's wish that this wonderful family be healthy and happy! --AG

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