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Azerbaijani cyclists to make Russian debut

03 April 2014 [15:00] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

Synergy Baku Cycling Project will make its Russian debut with a nearly all-Azerbaijani squad that will tackle the GP Sochi, the site of the last Winter Olympics.

The news was made by the Azerbaijan Cycling Federation.

The emphasis of the race will be on break groups and sprinters in the six-stage race, which is ranked UCI 2.2 and runs on April 1-6.

The six-man Baku squad features five Azerbaijani riders Aqshin Ismayilov, Elchin Asadov, Mahammed Alakbarov, Samir Jabrayilov, and Tural Isgandarov. Aleksandr Surotkovych of the Ukraine rounds out the team.

The race marks the team's return to racing.

"With the advent of April comes a big phase for us. We have a solid Europe Tour race program and the riders are all up for it," said team manager David McQuaid.

"But more importantly, Europe is where we must gain our UCI points in terms of Azerbaijani riders standing a chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games," he said.

"The qualification process hasn't started yet; it will start in 12 months and we need to know these races and how to perform in them. Perhaps some of our other minor nation riders - the Irish, the Austrians, etc - are also thinking the same," he noted.

McQuaid said the GP Sochi will hold the same importance. "Sochi, an event we skipped last season, is important too. Because of Azerbaijan's history with the former USSR it will be nice to showcase the Baku jersey in style there."

New experience

After the race, the Azerbaijani riders will stay on in Russia and ride for Azerbaijan's national team at the GP Adegeya on April 16-20.

The team is happy to coordinate with the Azerbaijani national federation and allow the riders to ride for the national team, the Federation said.

Because of other racing commitments, Baku would have trouble filling a team here, but when the Azerbaijani riders are with the national team, they can keep on racing with no problem.

Since the team's basic premise is to promote and support the upcoming Azerbaijani riders, this helps those riders with continued racing, as well as allowing their teammates to help gather UCI points to help the team's future.

General Secretary of the federation Farhad Aliyev strongly believes that the Synergy Baku will succeed in the upcoming events.

"We have no doubt that our athletes in Synergy Baku team have a great opportunity to improve their experiences. Obviously, their performance in other competitions will benefit them when they are riding for Azerbaijan's National Team. I believe that the GP Sochi and GP Adegeya events will help them learn more racing techniques and form a unique and strong national team," he said.

"Basing our hopes on the Program of the Talented Azerbaijani Cyclists, we look forward to putting as many athletes in Synergy Baku's squad as possible," Aliyev said.

"Being a tough school for our national athletes, Synergy Baku is more than a team for us," he stressed.

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