A week after he took to Twitter to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Pavel Sivakov successfully changed his UCI racing license from Russian to French. The Ineos Grenadiers rider was born in Italy to Russian parents but grew up in France and says that is where he learned to love cycling.
“I was born in Italy and moved to France when I was one year old,” Sivakov said in a statement from his team. “France is where I grew up and was educated and where I fell in love with riding my bike which led me to racing. It feels like my home.”
The UCI revoked the team licenses of all professional Russian and Belarusian registered teams on Tuesday but did not ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing for teams registered to other nations. Sivakov would have been able to keep competing for the British-registered Ineos Grenadiers team without changing his racing nationality to French, but would not have been permitted to race at the 2022 World Championships in Wollongong in Russian team colours.
In the UCI’s press release they stated that riders holding dual-nationality with Russia or Belarus and another country could change their racing nationality with immediate effect. In normal circumstances, according to UCI rules around nationality changes, the rider would not be eligible to race for their new country in events like the World Championships, Europeans, or the Olympic Games for two years during and after the change has been made. It normally takes a year for the nationality change to be approved by the UCI.
“I had wanted to become a French national for some time and had made the request to the UCI, but given what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, I wanted to fast track this,” Sivakov said. “To now have the opportunity to race as a French national in international events makes me incredibly happy. It would be a dream to race in Paris at the 2024 Olympics for France and this is something that the team have said they would fully support.”
Sivakov ended the Ineos Grenadiers press release about his nationality change by backing up his previous statement regarding the war in Ukraine.
“As I have previously said, I am totally against this war and all my thoughts are with the Ukrainian people. Like most people around the world right now, I hope for peace and a swift end to the suffering happening in Ukraine.”