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“It gave me a lot of confidence in my ability as before the crash, I was 5th overall in the race. It makes me more aware that I can be one of the top riders next year and fight for the top positions.”

Photo: Sirotti


07.11.2016 @ 12:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a marvelous debut season in the WorldTour during which he won the Tour de Romandie and a stage at the Giro d’Italia, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) confirmed his potential in a 2017 season that saw him crash out of the Giro d’Italia while sitting in fifth overall and win a stage at his first Tour de France. With his Giro exploits fresh on mind, the Russian has set his sights on future grand tour success.


Ilnur Zakarin was the big revelation of the 2015 as the lanky Russian took a hugely surprising victory in a star-studded edition of the Tour de Romandie and later won a stage in his first grand tour, the Giro d’Italia. The results moved him to the top of the Katusha hierarchy and this year he targeted the GC in the Italian grand tour and success at the Olympics.


Things were looking bright for Zakarin as he was sitting in fifth overall when he crashed out of the race on stage 19. The incident brought a promising race to an abrupt end for the Russian and even though his performances underlined his potential for the three-week races, it leaves him with a bitter taste of his season, also because he has to skip the Olympics – his second big goal of the season – due to the controversy surrounding organized doping in Russia. With a stage win in Paris-Nice and another great performance in Romandie, he started his season well but that can’t make up for his disappointments.


“I am not [happy with my start] because my two objectives were different. I really wanted to do a top 5 at the Giro and deliver a good performance in the Olympics,” he told


Despite the disappointment, the Giro provides confidence for the future.


“It gave me a lot of confidence in my ability as before the crash, I was 5th overall in the race,” he said. “It makes me more aware that I can be one of the top riders next year and fight for the top positions.”


After the Giro, Zakarin used the Tour de France to prepare for the Olympics and even managed to win a big mountain stage.


“I started the Tour de France this year with the idea of ​​preparing for the Olympic Games, but also with the goal of winning a stage at the back of I my mind. I managed to do so,” he said about the win which he describes as the biggest of his career.


Katusha have hinted that Zakarin will be the leader in next year’s Tour and the Russian is confident that he will be able to do well if he opts to do the race.


“I discovered the Tour de France for the first time this year, and for me it was a great experience,” he said. “I love the atmosphere around the race. Furthermore, I believe that the climbs of the Tour suit me because they are not too steep. Regarding the 2017 edition, I think the course is good for me, very balanced. If I go there, I think I can achieve a good result.”


With Joaquim Rodriguez moving to Bahrain-Merida, Zakarin will be the clear grand tour leader at Katusha in 2017.



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