(December 5, 2015) The Synergy Baku Cycling Project will put its focus on the Azeri riders in the 2015 season, with the goal of qualifying Azerbaijan for the road cycling events at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

2015 will be the deciding year for which nations qualify for the Rio Olympics, and Azerbaijan is eager to participate in the cycling events for the first time. The team’s goal for the year will be two-fold: to bring in enough points to earn a spot at the Olympics, and to develop the young riders into successful pros.

The team will introduce its campaign of “Baku to Rio” in the coming year, with associated projects. It will be officially announced at the team presentation in the new year.

For the first time, the team will have a majority of Azeri riders. Elgun Alizada will be a first year pro, while Enver Asanov and Ismail Iliasov go into the second year, having joined the team mid-season. The three will concentrate on races in the Asia Tour, to get used to pro racing, but will also gain some experience in Europe. Samir Jabrayilov and Tural Isgandarov will split their team between the Asia and Europe factions.

This group of younger Azeris will ride races for Synergy Baku to help their development, but will also race Nations Cups and other Federation races, which also bring in points towards the Olympics and World championships.

Aqshin Ismayilov will concentrate mainly on mountain bike racing.

Veterans Elchin Asadov and Max Averin will join their international teammates on the European circuit. Markus Eibegger and Alex Surotkovych are returning, while Matej Mugerli, Alex Pliuschin and Dennis van Winden have signed on to help the Azeri team. One more international signing will be announced in the next few days.

Sport director Jeremy Hunt was optimistic about the Azeri’s development. The season ended with an almost all-Azeri team at a series of races in China.  “We are competitive and it shows in results, and most of all in the way they are riding as a unit. I’m really happy with the improvements they have made since I first met them 18 months earlier, and as I said before, it shows in their mentality. racing style and results.”

“It will be good to be working with the new guys as they will get experience on and off the road, which sometimes can only be taught when racing together. I’m hoping for good results next year.”

Hunt was hopeful for the Olympics. “Olympic selection year is always difficult but with the right planning and taking out the variables it is easily achievable . But in cycling you always need a bit of luck.”

That bit of luck often seemed to lacking in the just-ended season, Hunt noted. “In 2014 we had ups and downs, starting the season with some great results from Max Averin at the   Porec Trophy, Matt Brammeier at Langkawi and Markus Eibegger in Brittany and Ras. Then we had a few problems, but we are a young team and if we can learn from your mistakes we will only get better. That is what we will do for next year.”

The team brought in seven wins on the season. Elchin Asadov won both the Azerbaijan national road and time trial titles. Markus Eibegger had two wins, as well, taking stages at both the Tour of Brittany and the An Post Ras. Max Averin opened the year with the team’s first win at the Porec Trophy. Michael Schweizer won the sprinter’s ranking at the New Zealand Cycle Classic and Matt Brammeier won King of the Mountains at the Tour de Langkawi. Eibegger also claimed the mountain title at the An Post Ras. Luke Davison won the Omloop der Kempen.

Synergy Baku Cycling Project for 2015:  Elgun Alizada, Elchin Asadov, Enver Asanov, Max Averin, Markus Eibegger, Ismail Iliasov, Tural Isgandarov, Aqshin Ismayilov, Samir Jabrayilov, Matej Mugerli, Alex Pliuschin, Alex Surutkovych and Dennis van Winden.

Foto: 7cycling