An Italian rider on the banned Gazprom-RusVelo team has lamented the UCI's decision to prevent his team from racing, claiming that "my dreams are shattered."
Alessandro Fedeli, who joined the Russian-registered team in the winter, was meant to start Wednesday's Trofeo Laigueglia on the day of his 26th birthday until cycling's governing body announced that that all Russian and Belarusian teams would not be allowed to partake in UCI-sanctioned races due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The Italian told Bici.pro that he could not understand why athletes from Russia and Belarus can continue to compete providing they're not representing a team from one of the two nations, but that he could not.
He said: "I would like to know at this point why the Russian riders of the German or British teams can continue to race. It is a measure that feeds hatred, in an environment that is used to mixing nationalities.
"In our team there are Italians, Russians, guys from the Czech Republic like [Marcin] Vacek who won in UAE and also from Costa Rica. The headquarters are in Italy, the team cars have Italian plates and the money comes from Germany."
Gazprom-RusVelo released a short statement to Cycling Weekly on Thursday saying: "Today the team management is on its way to Switzerland, UCI headquarters, in order to continue our dialogue regarding the measures which we need to take right now for our international team. We hope that we can tell you more details tonight after the meeting."
Its general manager Renat Khamidulin told Tuttobiciweb that "we have sent the world governing body some of our proposals, and the thing that comforts us is that a dials is underway with them."
Khamidulin did not elaborate on the proposals, but did add that the team had changed the entire vehicle fleet's colours to white, as well as the team's jersey. "We were ready to do our part, but then the directives of the ICO and then the UCI cut our legs of, although the didn't take away our hope," he said.
Nine of the team's 21 riders are from Russia, and though none of the riders have publicly come out and expressed their dissatisfaction with the Ukrainian invasion unlike Ineos Grenadiers' Pavel Sivakov, Khamidulin believes that his team could provide a positive message in the peloton.
"Cycling, our team, could be a messenger of peace," he added. "We don't want war; we want peace."
Fideli had been looking forward to race Tirreno-Adriatico and then the first Monument of the year, Milan-San Remo. That, though, is now highly unlikely.
"The other day I did 7 hours and 20 minutes of training preparing for San Remo," he said. "I'm starting to think I'll never become what I hoped for. My dreams are shattered. Even if they let us start again, the most important races of our season have gone.
"I'm on the side of the team, and I can't say anything about the war. We were ready to race, but now the desire to train is gone. Let's see what happens.
I returned from the Tour of Antalya with Covid. As soon as it passed, the team spent some good money sending four of us up to Teide. All thrown away! If the prospect is not to race for a long time, we might as well take a break and recover."
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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