At just 23 years old, this Russian cyclist is one of the most prominent in the Gazprom-RusVelo Team, coming tenth in the Tour of the Alps and third in the Vuelta Asturias. High-tech UYN kit bolsters these extraordinary performances
Take a note of this name: Alexander Vlasov. Only just turned 23, he is already one of the most promising talents in cycling. Born in Vyborg, Russia, a medieval city at the Finnish border not far from St Petersburg, he has lived in Italy for some time and is the star of Gazprom-RusVelo, the professional team sporting the highly technical UYN kit, in races and in down time.
Vlasov burst into the limelight last year when he conquered the Giro d’Italia Under 23, one of the biggest races in the youth calendar and a race that previously launched the careers of champions like Marco Pantani and Gilberto Simoni. This season is the first in which Vlasov has raced exclusively as a professional. After having proved his worth at the Ruta del Sol (eighth) and at the new Giro di Sicilia (fourth), he impressed the cycling world in the latest Tour of the Alps (22-26 April), where he was consistently riding with the top cyclists and finished in tenth place. This race between Tyrol and Alto Adige is one of the most prestigious preparatory races for the Giro d’Italia, on account of how difficult the course is and the quality of its participants. On those alpine climbs, Vlasov fought hard against opponents of such calibre as Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome and Rafal Majka. A week later, he underscored the point: his skill achieved him a podium place (third) and the youth classification jersey at the Vuelta Asturias.
Alexander, were you expecting these results?
“The Tour of the Alps was a tough course, my strength on the last climb fell a bit short, but I’m really happy about my performance. Overall, I’m really comfortable in the professional team. I’ve improved physically and in terms of tactics: now I’m able to battle it out at their pace, to ride using my head.”
What are your goals this season?
“I’ll be racing in the Tour of Slovenia, in the national championships and in the Sibiu Tour. In August, there’s a huge event: the Tour de Pologne, a World Tour race. My goal is to celebrate my first victory racing as a professional.”
We’ve seen you at the back wheel of some of the best on climbs: what are your main characteristics, as a rider?
“I want to get better at climbing and at time trials. I follow a really strict training plan and I’m careful with my diet but without getting too het up: if I want a hamburger every now and then, I allow myself the pleasure.”
Your dream race?
“I’ve already won the pink jersey as an under 23. The dream is to do that as a professional.”
How did you decide to get into cycling?
“As a kid I played football. Then, at the age of seven, I tried cycling and I liked it better. I raced in Russia until I was 18, then in Europe with the under 23 National Team and in Italy with Viris-Maserati. I lived in Vigevano for three years. I lived alone, learning to cook and do the housework. It was hard at the beginning, especially because of the language, but I got used to it. I’ve been wearing the Gazprom-RusVelo jersey for two years now and I’ve moved to the Lake Garda area.”
Who is your inspiration as a cyclist?
“Dutchman Tom Dumoulin. Excellent in the time trials, but also on climbs.”
In the opinion of a professional like you, what features does the best kit need to have?
“It has to be light and breathable. It shouldn’t be heavy and it shouldn’t restrict: in that sense, UYN is exceptional.”
How do you find UYN products?
“I have to say, the Alpha Biking shorts surprised me by how comfortable they are and for their performance. The chamois ensures I get the right protection even on the longest stages. Combining Lycra and seamless fabric makes it really breathable and supportive: it always stays where it should be and doesn’t cause irritation. The detail of UYN products catches my eye: everything is geared around top performance. The base layer shirt and socks aren’t just accessories, they’re high quality products that help athletes to give their all. At high levels, that makes all the difference and brings in decisive results.”