Kiryienka ready to roll

Belarusian excited at Tour prospects

Last Updated: 30/06/13 5:11pm

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Kiryienka: Has gained a reputation for his workrate

Kiryienka: Has gained a reputation for his workrate

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Fan-favourite Vasil Kiryienka says he is proud to work for Team Sky as the fight for yellow begins.

"We're in a really good position going into the race which makes it exciting and it makes me look forward to the next three weeks"
Vasil Kiryienka Quotes of the week

The Belarusian celebrates his 32nd birthday on the eve of the Tour de France and will be called upon heavily during the race to deliver his patented brand of powerful riding.

Kiryienka has become renowned for spending long periods grinding away on the front of the peloton, chasing down breaks and helping to set up his team leader.

Despite proving on numerous occasions he has the ability to compete at the sharp end of stage races in his own right, "Kiri" is happy to work for the cause.

On his cult status, the stoic rider reasoned: “I work hard in training before each race. People think that I am ever-lasting, but the reality is that I need a lot of recovery time after doing this work in the race. The way I view it is that, if I do a lot of work and expend my energy, this helps the other riders to then do their own work – rested and in a good position. If that allows them to go after a result or a stage victory, then that is my reward for all the hard work.”

Shouldering the pressure

Admitting to feeling “good and well recovered” after the Criterium du Dauphine, Kiryienka has slotted straight into Team Sky after arriving over the winter. An integral cog in wins at the Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice, Criterium International, Tour de Romandie and, most recently, the Dauphine, his record speaks for itself.

“It’s my first year with the team and when you join you always wonder what it will be like," he added. "You have questions, but now I really feel good. I have found my place in the team. I am at my best when it comes to working for the team and I am comfortable taking on that responsibility.

“I give a lot, but I am happy to do it. It makes me especially proud to be able to do this job at the Tour de France.”

No stranger to the Tour himself, Kiryienka is raring to go and rather than feeling nerves, he feels excited at the prospect of riding on a winning team.

He added: “I feel that this Tour is special already as it was difficult to even make the squad. Selection was not easy as the team have so many strong riders. We’re in a really good position going into the race, which makes it exciting and it makes me look forward to the next three weeks. I feel that I have a big responsibility and that the team will rely on me to do a specific job.

“In eight Grand Tours, this is the first time that I have gone into a race with a clear goal to win the general classification with a team-mate.”

The bodyguard

That team-mate will be Chris Froome and Kiryienka is well aware of the challenges that lay ahead across the three weeks, specifically as the race gets under way.

“The most difficult section of the race for me will be the first week,” he admitted. “That is when I will be called to do a big job. I know I need to keep Chris out of trouble and to not lose any time. It’s going to be a hard week, that’s for sure. But as a team we are not afraid of working. We have ridden in other big races this season fighting to defend the leader’s jersey or racing to take the lead. We know it’s going to be difficult, but we’ve done it before and we’re ready to take it on.”

On a personal level, Kiryienka is hoping to get off to a better start than at the Dauphine. He explained: “I had a bit of a rough start, before coming around as the race went on. I hope I can get off to a better start, but I know the team is ready. Everyone knows exactly what their roles are and what we need to do.”

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