Cyclists complete the "Five Rings of Moscow"
The Moscow cycling race is one of the oldest in the world. The first competition was held in 1920, when there was only one stage. Since 1992, it has been a five-day competition, consisting of five stages, hence the name "Five Rings of Moscow".
This year's event attracted athletes from nine countries – and the final stage took place in the very heart of Moscow, around the Kremlin.
“It was very difficult to organize such an event in the center of the city during the May holidays. But I think our federation, together with the Moscow government, did their best. And of course it's a great honor for us to hold the race during the 65th Victory Day celebrations,” Oleg Sienko, President of the Russian Cycling Federation, said.
However, the cyclists didn't have time to enjoy their surroundings. Several riders tried to break from the peloton, but the competition was tough and no one was giving an inch.
The thirty laps around the Kremlin passed in a blur, culminating in a dramatic finale as the judges had to use a photo finish to decide who crossed the line first.
And the winner was Boris Shpilevskiy, who was lying second right up until the finish line yet managed to snatch a last-gasp victory. The rider he edged out, Evgeny Kovalev, didn't mind finishing second.
“To be honest, I thought I had beaten off all my opponents, but I became too confident – and Lady Luck turned her back on me, just before the finish line! Credit to the winner – what an explosive finish," Evgeny Kovalev said.
Sergey Firsanov won two of the five stages, and he was crowned the overall winner.
“I'm extremely happy to win this competition – and I'm particularly pleased to win it on home ground. The final stage isn't my favorite discipline – road racing – but good results in the previous stages allowed me to grab the yellow jersey. I love this race, and this is the seventh time I've taken part in it, and it is always a great pleasure for me to come here,” Sergey Firsanov said.
The organizers are trying hard to make cycling a popular sport in Russia, and especially in Moscow, where more and more people are choosing to ride a bike rather than sit in a car and spend hours in traffic jams. Cycling fans hope that, sooner or later, cycle lanes will appear in the capital.
In sporting terms, the main result of this week's competition is that cycling is alive and kicking in Russia and there are lots of hot prospects for future talent.