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by Shane Stokes
January 19, 2018
Viviani pounces as Ewan pauses on stage 3 of the Tour Down Under; Clarification of UCI’s extended motor testing to come in March; Zakarin: Now I’m sure I can fight with the strongest in the Grand Tours; Seven months after bad crash, Siutsou to return to racing; Gazelle reaches 15 million bike milestone; Video: ‘Old man’ hammers Astana riders on climb; Video: Four minute mull 2018 E7: Froome’s kidney malfunction defence; Video: Ewan’s crucial delay; Video: Quiz of Lotto Soudal newcomers Jens Keukeleire & Victor Campenaerts
Fifth in last year’s Giro and then a career-best third overall in the Vuelta a España, Ilnur Zakarin will target the Tour de France in 2018 secure in the belief that he can take on the top Grand Tour riders in the world.
“The Vuelta was very important,” the Katusha-Alpecin rider told CyclingTips in a recent sit-down interview. “I went to the race in a good condition, feeling relaxed, without stress. I rode the whole Vuelta without stress, taking things day by day, and after this big result I became more confident in myself. It was the most important result of my career, more important than my Tour de France stage win. Now I am sure that I can fight with the strongest guys in the Grand Tours.”
Team manager José Azevedo believes it was a turning point for the 28-year-old Russian.
“He has more confidence,” he told CyclingTips. “Of course for him, two years ago when we were in this period and we planned the season for Ilnur, we were thinking about a top ten [in a Grand Tour]. Last year we started thinking top five. This is why he did two Grand Tours, but with time to recover in between.
“It was the first time he raced two Grand Tours, and we didn’t know how he would react after the first. This is why we decided the Giro and the Vuelta, to give him time to have a break and to prepare for the second.”
Click through to read the full interview on CyclingTips.