Ilnur Zakarin has signed a two-year contract with Gazprom-RusVelo. A Grand Tour specialist – with stage victories in the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and a third place overall in La Vuelta, 2017 – Zakarin returns to the team where he competed for two seasons in 2013 and 2014. The spring races are in focus,and in the summer the goal is the Olympic Games.
How does it feel to be back in the team that launched you as a professional cyclist?
“I have very warm and pleasant memories about the times in the RusVelo team. I am glad to come back to the team where it all started and I am ready to give my best to fulfill the trust placed in me”.
Today you’re a mature cyclist with many seasons behind you. What makes you wake up in the morning and gives you the enthusiasm to train?
“It’s true that I have been doing it for quite a long time already. I am enthusiastic about cycling because it’s not only my occupation, but also a true passion and a hobby. Setting goals and the way to achieve them makes me stay motivated. That’s my life’s work”.
After so many years of activity, how has your winter preparation changed (if at all)? Maybe in the past you prefer quantity and now you do more quality?
“My winter preparation was similar to the work I have been doing over previous years. The only difference was that I felt more confident and was training with a fresh mind. That is essential, because if you are training hard and you are in good shape but you are distracted by other thoughts and you are not mentally prepared, that will not work out. I had a good winter off-season preparation, was training both with the team in Mallorca and spent some weeks on the high-altitude training camp in Tenerife”.
Gazprom have the headquarters on Lake Garda; how do you like training in Italy?
“Honestly speaking, I prefer to live and train in Cyprus rather than in Italy. In the past I tried to live in Italy for a year with my family, but in the end, we decided to choose Cyprus, that is more convenient to me and my family for several reasons”.
You are one of the lightest riders of the whole group, how do you manage with nutrition? Do you follow special rules?
“I do care about my nutrition and I am very lucky that my wife is a nutritionist. She helps me a lot with eating healthy and basically, I just need to eat what she prepares for me. That is very helpful!”
How have you found training and competing in the Covid era?
“It depends from country to country, in some places the restrictions are stricter. If we speak about the races, of course we need to be more attentive and pass more tests, but of course that is acceptable; it is important that we are allowed to train and compete”.
How do you feel with the Colnago V3Rs?
“This bicycle is my favorite. V3Rs is a great model, it handles beautifully, it is lightweight and aerodynamic as well. So, there are only advantages and I am a fan of this bike”.
What are the main goals of the 2021 season?
“After starting the season properly in April I am heading to another training camp on the altitude to prepare for the Tour of the Alps and other races. One of my goals for the summer is also to compete well in the Olympic Games”.