A few days ago I was driving on the road of Valencia to the another meeting and, following the instructions of the navigator, I found myself calculating visually 500 meters of the road as if I were next to the finish of the race. Immediately I felt adrenaline in the blood, my pulse rose, I felt every beat of it…
It is not possible to get rid of it. These physiological changes were being formed in me for more than twenty years. Like fury I felt the wish to go back to the race and try to get to the finish again. But my common sense returned me to the reality: if you want to have an extra energy to sprint out on finish line well you should train hard, tirelessly and for a long time and be focused on the target. It is easy to achieve it in the beginning of the career, when you are a professional cyclist of more than 16 years the target often runs off.
Here is the moment.
Oleg Tinkoff has said to me recently in the chance meeting: «It’s time to prepare yourself for the real life, and the sooner you realize it all, the transition will be more maneuverable».
What cycling means for me
To understand this, you need to rewind the film of my life for 28 years back, and see me when I was 7 years old, when I was walking from one sports club to another. Up to 12 years old I chose one that defined the rest of my life. It was called «Cycling — Road». The ad with this name of the club was hanging in my school to invite children to join it.
Thanks to this club when I was a difficult teenager I escaped luckily from the accident where my oldest friend died … Thanks to trainings and racing again I separated from the company of mates who elaborated opium right at home. (It is possible to write a book about the dashing 90-s and my childhood but it is for the next time). From that time I completely focused on sports.
My first trip out of the Nizhny Novgorod region and it was the first trip outside of Russia became possible by cycling. Cycling motivated me to self-improvement.
When I first came to Italy for races in 1998, I realized that this country with its climate and relief was good for cycling. And I began learning Italian from a book very quickly to get into the San Pellegrino Cycling Team. During the period from 1998 to 2002 my fast professional growth took place, during this time I first competed in the Russian Junior Championships and then I signed my first professional contract. Further my progress was slower: I could not find much support among the professionals and had no experience of my own. In fact, there were few professionals among Russian cyclists at the time in cycling and at the end of 2006 I was ready to finish my career as I could not find a team to join…
Those who followed my success could be very surprised by the fact that my best time in sports was during the period 2007-2010. At that moment I began planning my life outside cycling…But I was picked up by Bjarne Riis. He did not have any special attitude towards me, in general there were no any special cyclists in his team. I was one of the thirty. However, impeccable and innovating teamwork itself was identifying who is who in the peloton and put everything in its place.
Then there was a transition with high hopes and strokes, falls and rises. I became stronger personally because of the difficulties in cycling. First I had to adapt to changes in my private life and then to those that took place in cycling and it is constantly evolving. Injuries from falls and improperly distributed exercises become more frequent and more severe, and moreover the rehabilitation periods, recover from torn ligament and muscles became longer…
All sportsmen go through a difficult career ending. All of them. The decision is inevitable. It is a torture somehow. Anyone, who says that it is a normal process which is painless, you change your life and become devoting it, for example, only for the family, is insincere.
As it turned out, it is very difficult psychologically.
The feeling that you will be just replaced by younger riders could be similar to the feeling that woman has when she realizes that she is not as young and attractive as before when she sees young and beautiful ladies passing by. The rupture with sports is comparable with the split with a darling person. I did not know it before until I heard the words of one of the physiotherapists who said that in sport psychology there is even a special branch of study dedicated to this process.
However, tough trainings and immersion in my new project at the same time, I didn’t have thoughts of the end of my career. I remember the words of Jens Voight, who finished his career a few years ago, he said: «Midlife crisis? — I do not have time for it…. »
I’m glad I finish my career with lots of energy. Summing up all the emotions and sensations, I can say that leaving the professional sport, I feel a great desire for self-realization in my casual life, where I will use my experience and practical knowledge.
I wish to thank all those who became my guides to the Professional Sports throughout my long career in cycling: my first coaches — Stas Shlokov, Evgeniу Krupin and Igor Lukyanov for their efforts and support at the beginning of my cycling career when I was a teenager.
I thank Rinat Latypov for picking me up to his team and bringing me to Italy!
I thank the Italian friends: Paolo, Pino, Roby, Rai, Stefano, Giovanni for helping me in my first difficult years in Italy.
I thank Bjarne Riis for believing in me, support and trust me!
I thank Igor Makarov for his attempt to restore the Russian cycling!
I thank Renat Khamidulin for letting me try step twice into the same river !
I thank the doctors, physiologists, psychologists and personal trainers who have worked with me and helped with professional support and advice!
I thank my wife Daria for a great patience and understanding!
I thank all people whose names I did not mention, but they’re with me in my memory. I smile to you 888