The Synergy Baku Cycling Project is eager to take on its homeland race, the Tour d’Azerbaidjan (May 3-7). The team will be led by captain Kirill Pozdnyakov and for the first time, will consist almost entirely of Azeri riders.

Kirill most recently won two stages and finished third overall at the Tour of Morocco. He will be supported by the team’s other two heroes from that race: Elchin Asadov, who won a stage there for his first professional win, and Josip Rumac, who won the King of the Mountains jersey.

“We go to the Tour with high goals, which we will try to achieve,” Kirill said. “We know that to win you also need luck and there are many other factors, but we are here to fight for the victory!”

Three young Azeri riders round out the squad. Samir Jabrayilov will ride his third Tour, while Elgun Alizada and Enver Asanov are making their debuts in the race. It is Kirill’s second appearance in the race, and Josip’s first. Elchin is the veteran in the race, having ridden it every year since it was first held in 2013. The team will look to repeat or improve on its success in the 2016 Tour d’Azerbaidjan. Last year they won two stages and the overall team ranking. The team will also be joined by ex-pro Johan Vansummeren, who is acting as an advisor.

“First of all, I would like to thank the organizers and all those who work so hard to organize such a high-end race. I am very proud of that a competition of this scale is carried out in our country and I am very glad that the world can watch a broadcast of race, to see the beauty of Azerbaijan and its contribution to world cycling,” said DS Eldar Dzhabrailov.

“For the first time I stand in the role of sport director for the home team at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan and of course I feel a great responsibility for the performance of my team.

“I don’t know why, but the race in Azerbaijan is to me like home cooking. Everyone likes to dine in expensive restaurants, but homemade food prepared by their hands tastes best. It is cooked with love and no one will criticize or compare it with something fancier. Others can make suggestions as to the right way to prepare it, but you will till prepare it as you feel and how it tastes.

“At this race in Azerbaijan we will act as a cooks: all our athletes know their work, they know their strengths and weaknesses, each carries out different roles in the races. They are all ready for the variety of situations that may occur in the race, and the most important thing is that they are ready to help each other, not only as a team, but also as a family.

“I know that for our guys this is a very important race, and they are under a lot of pressure to achieve good results. I know that they have done a great job with the start of the season and that they will continue to do so, because they love their work so much.”

Synergy Baku Cycling Project for the Tour d’Azerbaidjan: Elgun Alizada, Elchin Asadov, Enver Asanov, Samir Jabrayilov, Kirill Pozdnyakov and Josip Rumac