Azerbaijan develops cycling development program (INTERVIEW)(PHOTO)
Azerbaijan, Baku, April 26 / Trend, E. Mehdiyev /
Trend interviews international cycle racing specialist, Performance Director at Azerbaijan Cycling Federation Theo Maucher.
Q: At what stage is the preparation of Azerbaijani athletes for the First International Cycling Tournament, dedicated to the memory of national leader Heydar Aliyev?
A: At present, Azerbaijani national team members continue to train ro the tournament in Russia and Ukraine. Using the available conditions there, the athletes are preparing for the International Tour dedicated to the memory of Heydar Aliyev, scheduled for May. Our professional cyclist Tural Isgenderov continues training in the professional team.
Q: How many stages will the tour consist of, and what is the route of the tour?
A: Starting from May 9 the cycling tour will consist of five stages. The first stage will be held in Baku. Within this tour women and men will compete, during which each cyclist will have to overcome the proper distance within the city (women - 26 km, men - 30 km) in order to quickly reach the finish line.
At the first stage, women will compete individually, while men - in the team race. The second stage will cover a 176-km distance, it starts in Baku and ends in Ismayilli. After that, the peloton will pass the cities of Gabala, Oguz, Sheki and return back to Gabala. The fourth stage will cover the territory of Ismayilli and Gabala regions. Competition in the final, fifth round, will be held on May 13 through the central streets of Baku. Awarding ceremony will also be held in the capital. The tournament will be attended by 20 teams from 17 countries.
Q: How do you assess the importance of this tournament for the development of cycling in Azerbaijan?
A: Of course, this sport is very popular in the world. The upcoming tour in Azerbaijan will be of great importance for the country's further promotion at the international level, as well as for promotion of the country's sights, which are interesting for tourists. This tour is not indoor, and it will take place at long distances and in front of many people. Following this event, Azerbaijan perhaps may hold more important and prestigious international tournaments in cycling in the future. On the other hand, the development of this sport in Azerbaijan will contribute to environmental protection and the protection of public health.
Q: What is the state and prospects of cycling development in Azerbaijan?
A: The Cycling Federation existed and functioned in Azerbaijan in the Soviet times. However, in the last 20 years, its work was very passive. We try to revive this sport and create the appropriate infrastructure. There are practically no conditions for young people to practice this type of sports in Azerbaijan. There were no cycling clubs and schools. Their infrastructure was very weak. However, we try to develop and improve these spheres, to revive interest in cycling as part of the preparation for the tournament. At present, it is too early to expect serious results from Azerbaijani cyclists because Azerbaijani sportsmen have not participated in such competitions up until now. The appropriate conditions have not been created for them.
There are certain factors. Of course, the experience, based on many years rather than 1-2 years, is required. It is necessary to constantly participate in tournaments and compete with rivals at various levels to achieve high scores. The athletes, who will compete in this tournament, have been trained professionally in their country for a long time. However Azerbaijani athletes have been training for only a few months. From this point of view, it would be wrong to expect serious results from the Azerbaijani athletes in May.
Everything is good in its season. But the young generation is interested in this kind of sport and of course, conditions should be created for them in Azerbaijan. The first thing to do is to revive the work of cycle schools existing in the Azerbaijani regions, to improve conditions for training there, to open cycling schools in the regions where there are not such schools. The purpose of these actions is to find new, potential and talented youth and attract it to a professional sports career. So, we have prepared a special program.
Azerbaijani athletes have recently participated in the championship, held in the Russian city of Anapa. Our first success is that two Azerbaijani athletes have demonstrated their ability to compete on the same level with the Russian best athletes.
At present, we are looking for young people with potential. I am sure that if we prepare them properly and point them the right direction, Azerbaijani athletes will be able to achieve the best results in this kind of sport. The athletes must participate in these competitions at least 50 days a year. Naturally, this is planned in advance. Azerbaijani athletes will train in foreign countries to participate in various international competitions in the future. The athletes will be able to train in the country after the cycling schools are developed and appropriate conditions are created for this kind of sport in Azerbaijan.
Q: How suitable are roads for cycling competitions in Azerbaijan?
A: The roads are in good condition. They are wide. The infrastructure is well developed. Azerbaijan greatly supports the development of this kind of sport. Many state bodies actively participate in organizing the tournament.