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Viatcheslav Ekimov: A Week-Long Tribute to a Champion
 
By Cathy Mehl
Date: 11/20/2006
Viatcheslav Ekimov: A Week-Long Tribute to a Champion
 

This past summer Viatcheslav Ekimov quietly retired from his pro career in cycling to take a director's position with Discovery Channel in 2007. However, here at the DP we like to honor excellence, and believe his retirement should not go quietly into the night. All this week we will have features and interviews focusing on Eki's long career in the sport of cycling. Today we give an overview of his life and a list of his extensive palmares. In the days to follow we have been given permission by Paceline to reprint extensive interviews Cathy Mehl conducted with Eki earlier this year, in which he talks about his early life on the track in the Soviet cycling system, turning pro and riding fifteen Tours. And finally, near week's end we'll include a new interview we conducted just a few days ago with Eki from his home in Russia in which he talks about his decision to retire and the new challenges that lie ahead.


Ekimov: Getting Out of the Pro Saddle for Good
A Tribute to the Consummate Professional - Journeyman Cyclist and Gentleman, Viatcheslav 'Eki' Ekimov

By: Andrew Kappes

Viatcheslav Ekimov's career has been a long and successful one. He was born on February 4th, 1966 near St. Petersburg, Russia. He became a pro bike rider in 1990 at the age of 23, signing with the Panasonic squad. There he developed the name most Discovery Channel and American fans affectionately call him, "Eki".

Photo by Cathy Mehl

Even before he turned pro, Ekimov turned heads in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. He won a gold medal in the track team pursuit event for his native Russia. His first victory on a pro team occurred in 1992. That year he won the Veenendaal -Veenendaal, and the Tour DuPont. He went on to finish second at the following year's Tour DuPont, and won the Three Days of De Panne in 1996.

He joined the US Postal squad in 1997, winning the Russian National Road Race. He left USPS in 1999, but returned to the squad once again in 2000. That year he pulled off one of the greatest Olympic cycling upsets of all time when he won the Men's Time Trial over German Jan Ullrich, and teammate Lance Armstrong. That year was arguably the best personal year Eki ever had. In addition to the gold medal, he won the GP Eddy Merckx, and Three Days of de Panne. Slava followed up with a Silver medal four years later, in an equally spectacular effort in the ITT at 38 years of age.

Ekimov retired at the end of the 2001 season but returned to the USPS team the following season.

Ekimov also achieved something that might not make the stat sheet; he rode in 15 Tour de France's. He is tied for second and just one Tour behind the record holder, Joop Zoetemelk who has 16. Ekimov supported Lance Armstrong in all but one of his seven Tour victories. He fell early in the 2005 season, missing out on the Tour de France.

In what was his final expected stage race, Eki finished 32nd at this year's ENECO Tour, 15 seconds off the pace of ENECO winner Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner. Fans across Belgium and the Netherlands bid him farewell, as what many of cycling fans have been doing this season since the announcement of his retirement came. Ekimov will always be remembered as a fierce competitor, an iron man, and most importantly, a true Cycling gentleman.

Viatcheslav Vladimirovich Ekimov
Born February 4, 1966 in Vyborg, Russia
Nicknames: Slava, Eki
Professional: 1990 - 2006

Pro Teams:
1991 - 1992 Panasonic/Sportlife
1993: Novemail/Histor
1994: WordPerfect
1995: Novell
1996: Rabobank
1997 - 1998 US Postal Service
1999: Amica Chips/Costa de Almeria (Italy)
2000 - 2004 US Postal Service
2005 - 2006 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team

Selected Palmares:
57 victories as a pro rider, and over 150 trips to the podium with a collection of national, world and Olympic medals as a junior, elite amateur and professional give us some measure of the legend that Slava Ekimov carved out as his legacy in 26 years of international competition.


Amateur:
1984 Junior :
Junior World Track Championships:1 Silver and 2 Gold Medals in Pursuit

Elite Amateur
1985 :
World Track Championship Gold Medal Individual Pursuit,
Bronze in team pursuit with Russian team mates: Alexandre Krasnov, Marat Ganeev and Vassili Schpundov.

1986: World Track Championships Gold Medal Individual Pursuit
Bronze in team pursuit, team mates: Alexandre Krasnov, Viktor Manakov, and Gintautas Umaras (Lithuania)

1987: World Track Championships, one Gold and one Silver Medal Individual Pursuit.

1988: Gold Medal Team Pursuit at Seoul Olympics in 4:13:31 with Soviet Union team mates: Gintautas Umaras, Arturas Kasputis from Luthuania, Russians, Dimitri Neliubin, Viatcheslav Vladimirovich Ekimov.

1988: (22 years old)
Won the Prologue and Stage 8 on his way to winning the
General Classification of Vuelta al Tachira in Venezuela.
2 - in General Classification Circuit des Ardennes
1 - in Stage 6a Ronde van Belgium (amateur)

1989:
1 - National Champion Team Pursuit:
Podium in 4:08:791, team mates: Viatcheslav Vladimirovich Ekimov, Dimitri Neliubin, Michail Orlov and Evgueni Berzin
2nd World Track Championships Team Pursuit (same team as above.)
2nd in Stages 3, 4, & 6 on his way to finishing 2nd in the General Classification Postgirot Open in Sweden.
World Champion Track Champion Individual Pursuit Lyon, France.
3rd - General Classification Vuelta al Tachira Venezuela
3rd - Stage 3 Circuit Franco -Belge
2nd - Stage 4 Circuit Franco -Belge
1 - Stage 5b Circuit Franco -Belge
1rst - General Classification Circuit Franco - Belge

1990 Professional: (24 years old)
1 - World Individual Pursuit Champion

2 - Wielerrevue Grand Prix, Nederlands
2 - Stage 5b Etoile de Bessèges
1 - Stage 5 Tour Méditerranéen
3rd - General Classification Tour du Méditerranéen
1 - GP Wanzele
1rst - Stage 3 Critérium International

1991: (Panasonic/Sportlife - 25)
1 - World Individual Pursuit Champion
2 - Stage 2 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré
3 - Stage 5 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré
2 - Stage 8 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré
1 - GP Steenwijk
3 - Stage 3 Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia
1 - in Stage 3 Critérium International; Avignon, France
3 - in Stage 1b Driedaagse van De Panne

1992: (Panasonic/Sportlife -26)
2 - Stage 4 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré
2 - Stage 8 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré
1 - Druivenkoers - Overijse
3 - GP Rik Van Steenbergen
1 - Meisterschaft von Zürich
3 - General Classification Four Days of Dunkerque
2 - Stage 2 Tirreno - Adriatico - Italy
3 - Stage 4 Tirreno - Adriatico
3 - Stage 5 Tirreno - Adriatico
3 - Stage 6 Tirreno - Adriatico
3 - Trofeo Melinda (ITA)
2 - General Classification Driedaagse van De Panne - Belgium
3 - GP Baden - Baden
3 - Gran Prix des Nations France

1993: (Novemail/Histor - 27)
1 - Clásica de Almería
2 - GP Impanis (BEL)
2 - Mandel - Leie - Schelde
3 - NK op de weg, Elite, Rusland
2 - General Classification Quatre jours de Dunkerque
1 - Stage 5 Tour de Suisse, Liestal
2 - Stage 9 Tour de Suisse
3 - Stage 2 Tour Méditerranéen
1 - Stage 2 Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia
3 - Stage 3 Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia
3 - Stage 6 Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia
3 - Stage 3 part b Driedaagse van De Panne
1 - Heusden

1994: (WordPerfect - 28)
1 - General Classification Tour Du Pont
1 - Veenendaal - Veenendaal

1 - General Classification Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana
2 - E3 Prijs Vlaanderen (BEL)
3 - Stage 1 Kellogg's Tour of Britain, Glasgow
2 - General Classification Kellogg's Tour of Britain
2 - Stage 3a Kellogg's Tour of Britain
2 - Stage 5b Vuelta a Andalucia (Ruta del Sol)
1 - Stage 2 Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana
2 - Stage 5 Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana, Benicassim (ESP)
3 - Stage 6 Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana, Valencia (ESP)
2 - Stage 5 Paris - Nice, Vaujany
3 - General Classification Paris - Nice
3 - Amsterdam Rai Derny Race
2 - Leeds Classic, Leeds
3 - Stage 3b Ronde van Nederland

1995: (Novell -29)
2 - General Classification Ronde van Nederland
1 - Stage 3b Ronde van Nederland
2 - Stage 3a Driedaagse van De Panne (3day of Panne) Belgium
3 - Stage 3b Driedaagse van De Panne
1 - Stage 5 Tour de Suisse

1996: (Rabobank - 30)
3 - in General Classification Ronde van Nederland
3 - Stage 4 Ronde van Nederland, Doetinchem
2 - Stage 5b Tirreno - Adriatico
1 - Stage 2 Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia
1 - General Classification Driedaagse van De Panne
2 - Prologue Tour de Romandie
3 - Stage 7 Tour de Suisse

1997: (US Postal Service -31)
1 - Russian National Road Race Champion St. Petersburg
3 - Stage 5 Ronde van Nederland, Landgraaf
3 - Stage 2 Vuelta a Andalucia (Ruta del Sol)
2 - Stage 2 Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana
1 - Stage 8b Paris - Nice
3 - Stage 2 Setimana Catalana de Ciclismo
1 - Stage 3 Setimana Catalana de Ciclismo
3 - General Classification Setimana Catalana de Ciclismo
2 - Paris - Camembert (Trophée Lepetit)
2 - Stage 5b Tour de Romandie, Genève
3 - Prologue Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré, Grenoble
1 - Stage 2 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré
1 - Stage 4 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré
1 - Stage 5 Vuelta Castilla y Leon, Burgos (ESP)

1998: (US Postal Service -32)
3 - GP Eddy Merckx
2 - General Classification Ronde van Nederland
3 - Stage 3b Ronde van Nederland
2 - Trofeo Luis Puig, Espana
3 - General Classification Driedaagse van De Panne
1 - Stage 6 British Nine Day, Reading
3 - Stage 4 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré, Saint -Paul -Trois -Chateaux (FRA)
10 - Tour de France - Prologue, Dublin
5 - Stage 7 Tour de France
6 - Stage 20 Tour de France
38 - General Classification Tour de France
2 - Stage 4b Post Danmark Rundt

1999: (Amica Chips/Costa de Almeria - 33)
1 - Stage 3 Vuelta al Tachira, San Antonio,Venezuela
3 - Stage 10 Vuelta al Tachira, San Cristóbal, Venezuela
2 - Prologue Tour de Suisse, Solothurn (SUI)
1 - Stage 5 Tour de Suisse, Meiringen (SUI)

2000: (US Postal Service -34)
1 - Gold Medal Olympics ITT Sydney, Australia
1 - GP Eddy Merckx
1 - General Classification Driedaagse van De Panne (BEL)
1 - Driedaagse van De Panne, De Panne
3 - Stage 1 part b Route du Sud, Villeneuve sur Lot
55 - General Classification Tour de France (FRA)
2 - Stage 7 Tour de Pologne, Karpacz, Poland

2001: (US Postal Service -35)
1 - Gala Tour de France, Luxembourg
1 - Stage 5 Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana
1 - Terrasa, Spain
3 - General Classification Driedaagse van De Panne
82 - General Classification Tour de France
3 - EnBW GP, Stuttgart
3 - Stage 4 Ronde van Nederland, Denekamp
3 - Valencia GP

2002: (US Postal Service -36)
58th - General Classification Tour de France

2003: (US Postal Service -37)
3 - Paris - Roubaix (FRA)
1 - Stage 4 Tour de France, Saint -Dizier
1 - Stage 4 Ronde van Nederland, Denekamp
1 - General Classification Ronde van Nederland
76 - General Classification Tour de France
3 - San Francisco Grand Prix

2004: (US Postal Service -38)
1 - Stage 4 Ronde van Nederland
2 - Stage 4 Tour du Languedoc -Rousillon
2 - General Classification Tour du Languedoc -Rousillon
80 - General Classification Tour de France
2nd Olympic ITT Athens
2 - General Classification Ronde van Nederland (NED)
3 - Gala Tour de France (LUX)

2005: (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team - 39)
1rst - Stage 4 Driedaagse van De Panne, De Panne (BEL)
2 - Stage 4 Tour de Georgia, Dahlonega (USA)

2006: (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team - 40)
89th- General Classification Giro d'Italia (ITA)
2nd - ProTour Ploegentijdrit, Eindhoven (NED)
84th - General Classification Tour de France (FRA)

 
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