How the Ukraine Cycling Academy are keeping the nation's cycling dream alive

Chris Marshall-Bell meets the cycling academy in Italy

Ukrainian cyclist Danylo Chernomortsev had just turned 16 when Russia began its full-scale invasion of his country in February 2022. His hometown, the southern city of Mykolaiv, was battered by the invading force’s artillery from day one. “A lot of Russian machines and tanks came to Mykolaiv, tried to surround the city and take it. We watched so many tanks go past our house,” he says.  

Russia failed to seize Mykolaiv, but for the past two-and-a-bit years, the city has remained one of Vladimir Putin’s key targets. Ordinary people have paid the price – including one of Chernomortsev’s closest friends Petro Ivanov. “Seven months after the war, my friend, who was 16 like me, was coming back from school when a Russian missile killed him in the centre of the city. No one can replace him.” 

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Chris Marshall-Bell

A freelance sports journalist and podcaster, you'll mostly find Chris's byline attached to news scoops, profile interviews and long reads across a variety of different publications. He has been writing regularly for Cycling Weekly since 2013. In 2024 he released a seven-part podcast documentary, Ghost in the Machine, about motor doping in cycling.

Previously a ski, hiking and cycling guide in the Canadian Rockies and Spanish Pyrenees, he almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains. He lives in Valencia, Spain.