Ineos cyclist Sivakov switches from Russian to French flag
Pavel Sivakov, one of the two Russian cyclists to ride in the elite World Tour, will compete under French colours from now on saying he had wanted to "accelerate" the process given Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The 24-year-old, born to former Russian cyclists in Italy and brought up in France, had spoken out against the invasion last week.
Russian and Belarusian cycling teams were banned from all international cycling events by the UCI on Tuesday, although individual athletes racing for professional teams elsewhere are exempt from the suspension.
Sivakov would have been able to carry on even without the switch of colours as he rides for Ineos Grenadiers.
"I wanted to become French for a while and I had approached the International Cycling Union (UCI) about the change," he said.
"Given what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, I wanted to speed the process up."
Ineos said the UCI accepted the change of nationality on Wednesday.
"I was born in Italy and I moved to France when I was one year old," said Sivakov.
"France is where I grew up and studied, where I fell in love with cycling, which sparked me into competing professionally.
"It is home. I am grateful to the UCI and Ineos for supporting me in this."
Sivakov -- who won the 2019 Tour of Poland and finished ninth in that year's Giro d'Italia -- said he is setting his sights on riding for his adopted country when Paris hosts the Olympic Games in 2024.
He also reiterated his opposition to the war.
"As I already said, I am totally against the war and all my thoughts are with the Ukrainian people.
"Like the majority of people in the world I hope for peace and a rapid end to the suffering in Ukraine."
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