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2 Mar, 2012 17:37

German cycling guru promises to lead RusVelo to glory

The world of cycling has welcomed a new Russian team into its ranks. And German specialist Heiko Salzwedel, who heads the new ambitious RusVelo project, is already promising his athletes will produce medals at the London Olympics.

The team was officially unveiled during a presentation on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Following a period of stagnation after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian cycling is slowly but surely returning to the sport’s elite ranks.

The launch of team Katyusha four years ago was a success, and showed that cooperation between the private sector and the sport’s governing body in Russia is critical for the rebirth of the sport.

RusVelo is the next natural step for Russia’s global cycling project, which was started in 2008 by the cycling federation president Igor Makarov.“Russia’s cycling is going through a hard time at the moment,” Vladimir Vagenleitner, general director of Russian Cycling Federation, said. “But the emergence of new, competitive teams could be the first indication of a renaissance. Our goals are ambitious indeed – being competitive at international events, winning in professional sports, and achieving the highest results at World Championships and Olympic Games.”

Germany’s leading cycling expert Heiko Salzwedel was given the reins at RusVelo. His successful international career began when he moved to Australia back in the 1990’s.

Salzwedel later developed a program that bred champions like Robbie McEwen, Cadel Evans and Mark Cavendish to name just a few as he spread his expertise down under as well as in his native Germany, Great Britain, Denmark and Canada.“I've never worked with such a committed bunch of riders before. Great talents and big commitment,” Salzwedel stressed. “From that point of view, I’m really optimistic that we can do something really exciting at the London Olympics. It’s not going to be a surprise for me, but for other countries.” 

One of the team’s biggest hopes is the 24-year-old beauty Evgenia Romanyuta. The 2011 season saw the Russian cyclist win the European Championship and a few world cup stages.

At the moment she is one of the country’s main contenders for gold at the Olympics in London.“I have won two stages of the World Cup in omnium, so it should be sufficient to qualify for the Olympics,” Romanyuta said. “We didn’t score any points in the team pursuit. But we still have the last chance at the World Championship, but it will be a hard job. But as for the omnium event, I will do my best because I want that medal.”

Sports director and women’s team manager Jochen Dornbusch is also investing lot of hope in Romanyuta.

However, the former national coach of Germany and Hong Kong has plenty of other winning material that will be able to bring more than podiums to Rusvelo women.

He will also advise the less experienced cyclists on how to achieve greatness, as three German stars – like five-time cyclo-cross world champion Hanka Kupfernagel – strengthen the otherwise all-Russian squad.

Team manager Heiko Salzwedel has a long-term plan to make Russia the greatest cycling nation by the year 2016.

However, with the London Olympics right around the corner, the German aims to impress by bringing home at least a couple of pieces of silver.