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Ukrainian Team Eurocar-Grawe Is Going Strong Despite Forced Displacement

By Frantiska Blazkova

The ongoing attack on Ukraine has severely disrupted the lives of people from all walks of life – athletes included. The Ukrainian team Eurocar-Grawe, consisting of local athletes and previously based in Vyshgorod, a district of Kyiv, is one of the many examples.

Thanks to the gesture of solidarity by the organisers of the Giro del Belvedere, the up-and-coming team has been able to relocate to Italy to continue training for the European U23 Championships and gradually climb to prominence in road and track cycling. The team’s founder and sports director Aleksey Kasyanov was kind enough to provide us with a few insights via an interview.

Back home, Eurocar-Grawe wasn’t just a cycling team, they were actively involved in the local sports community through a cycling club, which included a professional team, an amateur team, and a children’s cycling school. They passionately promoted the idea of cycling in Ukraine under the ŠKODA banner, held open training sessions, and advocated the development of infrastructure for cycling. Luckily, both the children’s and adult pro teams were able to relocate to Italy on March 31st, with the latter already appearing in the top 20 in two races and winning the ‘active rider’ jersey. In the words of the head of the Giro del Belvedere’s organising committee, Gianfranco Carlet: “We wanted to give a moment of serenity through cycling to young people who are suffering personally at this sad time for the whole world”.

The aforementioned interview with Aleksey Kasyanov continues below.

For starters, can you tell us more about your team’s background?

We started in 2016 as an amateur team in Ukraine. I used to be a professional cyclist on continental teams. After that, I wanted to make my dream come true and organise a team for the development of cycling in Ukraine. There are many world and European champions in our country, there are winners of big races and grants but historically, there has not yet been a team from Ukraine that raced at a Grand Tour. I continue to dream about this idea!

Over the 6 years of the club’s existence, we were able to develop three main branches: an amateur team, a children’s academy, and a professional club. Thus, we were engaged in the development of cycling from a small child to a professional athlete. We also tried to attend various events that are aimed at the development of cycling.

Who offered the team support in this difficult situation?

Currently, we have support with the help of the Ukrainian Cycling Federation, UCI, and UEC. The Italians also help a lot. We were able to negotiate new technical sponsors but we are experiencing significant financial problems since our sponsors are all in Ukraine and all finances are directed to the integrity of our Ukraine – and we agree with that decision! We continue to race in Italy and are preparing to compete in the U23 European Championships in road and track cycling.

What do you consider the team’s biggest successes so far?

The main success of our team is that we give young athletes from Ukraine the opportunity to compete in the international cycling arena. In 2022, we are the only continental team from Ukraine, we only have riders from Ukraine, and children from the academy can already start training with more experienced athletes. This creates more opportunities for the younger generation of Ukrainian cyclists. All athletes of our team are members of the national team of Ukraine and, of course, we dream of medals in the European and World Championships.

We have already been on the podiums of international races in Bulgaria. This year, we are in Italy and we participate in all races and get international experience, as Italy is one of the leading countries in the world in cycling.

What is left of your team’s activities now since you were forced to flee Kyiv, Ukraine, due to the war?

We still have a continental team and most of the kids have been placed in kids’ clubs all over the world. We are now trying to preserve with all our might what we had before.
In Italy, we have already been able to find technical partners: Limar helmets, Cronos shoes, Andriolo, and Sellerepente. Big thanks go to everyone who helps us.

How is the preparation for the European U23 Championships going?

Everything is going according to plan, we are going through the training for which we planned back in 2021. Two sportsmen from our team, Andrey Movchan and Oleksandr Smetanyuk, will compete at the U23 European Championship in road and track. We hope for good results from them.

What are the team’s hopes and dreams for the future?

We hope that in the future, our athletes will be able to compete in Grand Tours and with professional World Tour teams. We are not giving up the dream of seeing our team in pro-Tour races but for this, we need more time and opportunities.

Thank you, Aleksey, for your time and answers and we wish the Eurocar-Grewe team a future journey with the fewest hurdles possible and a timely, happy return to Ukraine.