The Lithuanian rider from Movistar Team -set to depart in both races at Copenhagen’s Worlds- will search again for top places in the time trial, where he will defend the chances by the Baltic country to score a place for the London Olympics
Already on Danish soil, where he arrived in the late evening on Saturday from his residence in Oliva near Valencia, Ignatas Konovalovas is now focused on the two Worlds races coming up on Wednesday, with the indidividual time trial, and Sunday with the road race. Despite being a 26-year-old, the Lithuanian rider will be the Movistar Team rider with the most appearances, his 10th cap for the competition since he debuted as junior in 2002. Recovered from the stomach virus that forced him to give up in the last week of the Vuelta a España, Kono hopes to get back from a hard 2011 season with a good result in Copenhagen.
I have ridden all Worlds since my first season as junior, and for me, participating here is always important because you represent your country. It’s another classic, but at the same time it’s different, because it’s raced into national teams. There are all big riders always present into a top-ranked race, but all of them with different colours. All of that makes it a different race, because some countries can play with their figure superiority and strong riders don’t have such chances with smaller teams. Personally, this is my last chance to fix what has been my worst season as pro. I don’t know why I haven’t been able to even make an ITT into the best ten, so reaching that level here would be quite a miracle. I have neither pressure nor expectations because everything went bad this season and I have had so many disappointments.
I had to leave the Vuelta due to the virus affecting everyone into the team and stood for two days without any bike and three or four still feeling weak. But since then, all my preparations were focused to do a good ITT on Wednesday, always with the TT bike. I’ll be doing the RR as an extra, but I’m above all thinking of the time trial. I have done several rides behind the motor, and theoretically I should be reaching the race in good condition, because I think that the Vuelta is the best preparation for the Worlds. It gives you competition rhythm and leaves you almost two weeks’ time to concentrate on the tri-bars.
The Worlds will be really important this year, because they are the key for places given for the Olympics Games in London. We have to be into the ten best countries, so that must be our objective. Trying to be into the best ten, even though there’s always some country that gets two riders into the best ten, and taking a 12th or 13th place would be enough. I haven’t set any specific goals on myself for the RR, but I suppose we’ll be committed to work because we have a good sprinter like Kruopis, and I think we’ll be playing his card.
I don’t know the RR route: some say it’s really easy, while others don’t. I do have seen the TT route on the Internet and it doesn’t seem like too technical, turns can be taken fast but, until you don’t see it right on site, you never know how it is exactly. It looks quite flat and for me, especially after how I felt into all flat time trials this season, I would have liked it to have some more slopes. There are pure rouleurs like Grabsch that have more problems into a hillier course, but if the route is flat, it’s difficult to be with them with their power.
For the time trial: Tony Martin and Cancellara, but 50% each. Many people talk more about Martin, but if Cancellara prepared the time trial at 100%, I think he’ll be at the German’s level. I have read at some site that he was more focused on the RR, so that could be a key. There’s always some surprise, like Tuft or Clement in recent editions, people that can be close to medal places. For the road race, riders like Hushovd, Boasson Hagen, Gilbert and Freire, who’s really smart and must never be ruled out for the Worlds.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS APPEARANCES
2010: elite (12th ITT, 89th RR)
2009: elite (9th ITT, 30th RR)
2008: elite (37th ITT, ABN RR)
2007: U23 (12th ITT, 25th RR)
2006: U23 (12th ITT, 56th RR)
2005: U23 (27th ITT, 70th RR)
2004: U23 (17th ITT)
2003: junior (79th RR)
2002: junior (29th ITT)