Proskurin: The road is open—go for it!

    • Filled in News in English 4 Февраль 2010 в 10:21, author: Paolo
    • Views: 10 258.

    Not long ago, Nickolay Proskurin answered some questions for Astana fans. He had very interesting things to say about some of the new riders and staff, and about his son’s role at the team. He knows the team will keep Alberto Contador safe on the cobbles. And he showed a lot of confidence in the young Kazakhs!

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    Nickolay Abramovich, when and where will the presentation of Astana be?

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    Astana’s presentation will be around 29-30 January in Vienna. There were plans for having it in Monaco, but there are certain priorities - Kazakhstan is chairing the OSCE this year (the headquarters are in Vienna), plus Kazakhstan may surprise people in Europe, except for Astana being leaders, right?

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    At what level will the presentation be—modest or in a big way...with a concert program?

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    At a good level. We are not going to have a presentation that’s just a show!

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    And what about a presentation in Kazakhstan?

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    The team cannot afford to have two presentations. In general, teams rarely hold presentations in the countries in which they belong, they try to hold them...in exotic countries. 🙂

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    Why were there two training camps this year?

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    It's customary. Moreover, there have been big changes in the team, there are a lot of new people, so that more riders have to be introduced to each other. The first gathering was devoted to medical examinations, fitting the new bikes. Specialized—a new company for us—is transferring to a new inventory: We need to get used to it.

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    Contador said in his interview that at the first camp there was a good friendly atmosphere, but wasn’t it a little chaotic?

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    You have to take into consideration that we had nothing at the time, not even transport ...

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    By the way, Bruyneel didn’t pick up the assets of Astana, do you have a concern about this?

    No. Now we’re buying all acquisitions for the team directly, so that we never again face a situation where a manager leaves and takes all the team stuff with him...

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    Let's talk about the new riders. I’d like you to give a brief description of them. Who will replace those departed climbers?

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    Tiralongo, all Spaniards—they’re good climbers.

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    And what about Grivko?

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    Grivko is not a climber, he is...like a locomotive. Do you think that the most difficult thing is the mountains? Before you reach the mountains, you have to get the team there, the gregarios must do a crazy job that is usually not shown on TV. Grivko is such a good engine. About climbers—Iglinsky can focus on certain critical stages where it is very hard—it is very important for the victory. De la Fuente—he’s a great climber, too!

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    Stangelj?

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    Stangelj is the same age as Vinokourov, a good hard worker. He will take a care of Contador on the flat stages.

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    Let's talk about Pereiro—a large, noteworthy, principal acquisition of Astana...But they say that he hasn’t been well recently, that he has had morale problems…Will this affect how useful he is to Astana?

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    Pereiro is a Tour de France winner! And he is ready to work for Contador! "I’m not afraid to work," so he said. He is modest, very friendly. All of them are really great riders—they are modest. (You have to take in consideration that his contract is several times less costly than, for example, Kashechkin's was in 2007.)

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    Contador outlined a rough approximation of a Tour team: Pereiro, Noval, Navarro (Hernandez), Vinokourov, Grivko, Tiralongo, Stangelj, De la Fuente. Do you agree with the list?

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    Yes, however, everyone will still be under consideration. We have about 14 riders on the short list. Nine of them will be chosen at the end of June, depending on results. We can add Zeits from Kazakhstan – he has progressed! There are four Kazakh contenders: Vinokourov, Iglinsky Sr., Fofonov, Zeits.

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    What can you say about Gurov?

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    Gurov has to replace Muravyev, he will perform his work, it is a good replacement.

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    Many were surprised by the acquisition of Allan Davis, because hasn’t Astana always preferred GC riders, not sprinters?

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    Yes, this year Astana will focus on the Tour again. But we also need to gain points, we have a half-year before the Tour. We’re racing the classics and we need points. Valentin Iglinsky, Bazza and Allan Davis—we have sprinters now and they will rock this year! Bazza and the older of the Iglinskys had the role of gregario last year with Bruyneel, but they can do more than that.

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    Yes, with Allan it's clear, we know him as a  rider. But Scott Davis? What he can bring to Astana?

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    Scott Davis—he is more of an expert in the classics, he will mostly be in the classics and will ride in one day races.

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    You said last autumn that Nepomnyaschiy will stay with the national team...

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    This decision was made by the senior Kazakh coaches. I was surprised to meet Nepomnyashchiy at the first Astana camp, Schefer said that they invited him to Astana with the agreement of the national team coach. They believe that it is better for him as an athlete to be on Astana now.

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    Let's talk about Astana's young riders from Kazakhstan! Who would you highlight? You only mentioned Zeits! What could you say about Raimbekov, for example?

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    Pretty good racer and a decent guy! He is still very young and has to prove himself. Speaking of the young Kazakhs, none of the racers are bad, I can tell you! Yes, yes! All the guys have a future! And most importantly, they are not loafers! They are infatuated with this sport! They will have this whole year, they will be centered in Nice,  and Sedun will deal with them . And remarkably, Pepe—Contador’s personal trainer—is preparing a personal program for each of our Kazakh riders. He is a literate, intelligent coach and will oversee all the young Kazakh riders.

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    I held two meetings with all of the Kazakh riders. I told them, there are no limits for you. The road is open—go for it!

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    Vinokourov is a builder and teacher here! Look at how he rallied the team!

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    Pepe will be the new directeur sportif?

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    He is a trainer and only the training plans are up to him. We have a total of five directeurs sportif on the staff.

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    We’re always reading and hearing people say: Astana has lost so many stars, so many stars!

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    But look at the ones that came! One Vinokourov is worth a fortune! What a climber! He is still something! You'll see at the Giro. Iron Man! And Pereiro!

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    What about a future for Contador at the team? Maybe a successful Tour will change his mind?

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    Alberto is a very intelligent guy. He says: I like the team, I like this project. If there is no problem - there's a chance I could stay in this project!

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    Problems ... such as the doping scandals? Does he have a clause concerning this issue in his contract?

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    No team is guaranteed to escape issues like this! The same people, that's life! How can I be responsible for all 27 people? I said: Alberto, we will fight against such things, but I will not give a 100% guarantee for you, and no one will.

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    Was this item removed from the contract?

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    I don't comment about contracts.

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    Is the internal anti-doping program still a part of the team?

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    Of course, even greater!

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    Alberto’s rivals—especially the Schleck brothers, RadioShack—they know that he’s strong in the mountains and in the TT! Now everyone says that it’s possible to take advantage of a weakness of Alberto’s—the cobbles. That's where you can "do it to Alberto", to break away from Alberto, they say. What’s Astana’s take on this?

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    We have a team that’s fully capable of taking care about him there! I do not think that they will get away from us on cobblestones. I can say with confidence: there's no rider on the planet stronger than Alberto, no! And only an absurd accident could prevent him from win!

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    Doesn’t your son Nickolay also work on the Astana staff? Tell us more.

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    There were some problems on the team. Yvonne (Sanquer) speaks French, and many do not speak it. Nickolay knows English and French. He is responsible for communication with the UCI team, all documents. McQuaid says it would be more convenient to work with him—he is a diplomat, and most of the older Kazakhs are very assertive, too straightforward. Even Bruyneel said, “I will talk only with him.” They feel more comfortable working with him, he is a diplomat really. Press, IPAs, directors, manager—Nick is a link between them. He is the official assistant to the team’s general manager.

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    Did you accomplish all the challenges you faced last year?

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    The most important thing of the year for me was to save the team. We’ve spent everything we could, my son was a go-between for six weeks with the UCI, Bruyneel, Martinelli, Yvonne and sponsors. Sharp tongues would say what they wanted, but we had to do a lot of work! And the result is obvious - the team was saved! So I did my job and everything that was required of me—I did it! That's all!

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    Thank you, Nickolay Abramovich, for the informative and positive interview! Allow us to wish Astana and you that everything goes well! And every success for all the hard work!

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    Interview by AlikKZ

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