A CHANCE TO DEVELOP
One of the more curious teams at the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge was RusVelo. We spoke with moonlighting Chief Mechanic Ralph Medlof about the team and their fundamentals. What follows is his words.
I‘m normally the Chief Mechanic for Jelly Belly Pro Cycling p/b Kenda, but I’m here for this race with RusVelo. Right now I’m setting the bikes up, making final adjustments for the riders. RusVelo is a Pro Continental team built mainly for the endurance track program in Russia, but they also take riders on for the bigger tours like this one. Aside from the track, they primarily do stage racing in Europe and Asia—in fact they just had a fabulous race in China at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, getting 2nd in Team GC and fifth in the individual GC. The team is full of strong riders, and they’re all young (there are some similarities to a development team). Their main goal is to develop riders for the track, for the World Championships and the Olympics in Rio 2016. There are some private sponsors but really the team is funded by the Russian Federation; most of the equipment is purchased.
The long-term goal of the team isn’t to get sponsors notoriety, it’s to find riders for the Olympic team.
I grew up myself in East Berlin, and I think some of them come from similar situations in Russia. I understand how for them the team isn’t simply about racing bikes, it’s about having a chance to get out there, maybe have a better life. They come from all over Russia and while none of them have much money they all have talent, so this is a chance to develop that talent and race all over the world. They were extremely excited to get the invite here to the USAPC. It was a last-minute thing but they are all psyched for the opportunity to come over here and show themselves off. We’ve seen Ivan Rovny ride amazing, for example. He’s proving himself on a big platform and people will recognize that.