Written by Barry of TEAM BOBYN
Due to popular demand I have been asked as Ukraine NT manager to provide a season preview. I hope the links all work !
Season 54 will mark the 6th year of the current managerial regime for the Ukraine National Team. Looking back the NT has made steady progress since those heady early days with two solid mid-tier Ukrainian teams, TEAM BOBYN and ArxhangiiliPoznyakax driving the competition and expanding the pool of talent in Ukraine. Indeed while both Ukraine sides aggressive compete with each other in the mid-divisions for honours (and indeed the occassional fisticuffs in the backstreets of Kyiv) , they do work togethor for the sake of the NT in the WT.
Season 54 will mark a change in focus for the NT. We are not expected to make any major headroads into the WT or CON. Finishing the season in Div B avoiding relegation to Div C and enjoying a fine cognac afterwards will be expected by riders, staff and fans like. A podium finish would be good - we have not had one of those for a while and exposure to Div A will be a bonus but probably unrealistic for a few seasons yet and a podium finish in the Comrade's Cup and Heroes Competition is a tough but not altogethor unrealistic proposition.
Traditionally there has been a heavy reliance on our sprint division headed up by fans favourite and currently Number 1 Nationally ranked rider
href='/?page=Rider%20Profile&id=1079265'>Veniamin Tupitsyn , a Comrade "Hero" Champion in S50 but recently challenged by Fyodor Gorokhin and the dynamic duo fromArxhangiiliPoznyakax , Arseny Dobrolyubov and Filip Avandeyev . Last season saw a dramatic change in fortune for the former as Dobrolyubov secured the Captaincy for a number of WT rides and finished 5th in the Heroes Competition. Expect more from Arseny for this season but also keep an eye out for new developing sprint talent "Rastaman"Svyatoslav Rastorguyev following his recent transfer from TEAM BOBYN to CK Hymer
It is predominately in the sprints where the Ukraine NT offer the strongest challenge and the team is expecting points during the sprint races of Day 57 and 78, whether Div B or C. Indeed to support this endeavour Fedor of ArxhangiiliPoznyak has been brought in as specialist NT Sprint Coach to advise on team selection(No pressure Fedor!) drawing on his teams specialist abilities in SP and FR while TEAM BOBYN moves it's focus on CL & DH.
Of the remaining races, it's still a work in progress for the Ukraine NT, keep an eye out for Ivan Bugayev who has emerged from his summer-winter-summer dacha hibernation as a real possible (perhaps
lone) threat in the DH particularly for Days 22 and 71 while Dmitry Putilov and Spiridon Bondarchuk will provide the necessary mountain goat support.
On TTs lots of expectation on the shoulders of young Browncoats academy starlet Spartak Tsyganov who secured a commendable 5th in the WT Goteburg TT last season and there maybe a few surprises in the All-rounder or Hill-sprint races on days 50, 64 and 85 with Erik Nechayev and Gordey Greshnev newly arrived as possible surprise packages to augment the genuine talent and challenge from Tupitsyn and Dobrolyubov.
However, it's the first race of the WT season we must turn our gazes to and it's a delight again to start our WT campaign on Home Soil at the Lozuvatka - Kryvyi Rih (WT), unfortunately Cobbles are Ukraine's weakess areas and while thousands of adoring fans will be cheering on the team, we're not expecting anything of value to come out of the race apart from some good Shaslick and gorilka afterwards served by a buxom Ukrainian lass. Just hope our staunchest rivals - the Russians don't show up and show us up on home turf and beat us.
Happy Racing Everyone and enjoy the sport. I would like to thank all managers of Ukrainian Riders for their ongoing support for the season ahead.