Mark Padun is a name you are about to hear quite a lot of, as the Ukranian makes his debut as a stagiaire later this week with Bahrain-Merida at Coppi Agostoni and Coppi Bernocchi. However, the talented climber has shown enough in his last two seasons at Colpack already to prove he is the real deal.
Padun, fluent in Italian, is a man of few words. However, he took time ahead of his debut in pro racing to speak with U23 Cycling Zone, the first rider the site has interviewed since its creation.
Padun revealed that he got into the idea of being a pro after his bike broke and his coach at the time “told me that I could get a new one free of charge if I had some nice results,” Padun said in an exclusive interview.
Padun, should he go pro with a WorldTour team, would be only the second rider from his nation to race in the WorldTour currently. Astana’s Andrei Grivko is the other, but Padun, who has had some amazing results in 2017, said he has asked for no advice from his compatriot, a veteran of the Classics.
Mark has been electric in 2017, winning his first UCI race of the year at Trofeo Piva solo. He followed that up with 2nd overall in Fleche du Sud, just three seconds behind Matija Kvasina. He also added the best young rider jersey, more than 2:30 ahead of his nearest rival in that category.
Padun and Team Colpack then headed to the Baby Giro, or Girobio, where he battled with the best prospects in cycling at U23 level. Padun and Colpack were brilliant, with Mark winning stage three in a sprint amongst climbers, beating Pavel Sivakov (signed for Sky), Lucas Hamilton (rumoured to Orica-Scott), Matteo Fabbro (signed for Katusha-Alpecin), Scott Davies and Jai Hindley (signed for Sunweb). After a brutal eight days, Padun finished fifth overall.
Mark spoke of the honour he has at riding with Colpack, a team that has been a stepping stone for many riders on their way to the WorldTour.
“When Colpack first contacted me to ride for them for 2016, I was very happy. It is a great honour to race for them and offers me a great chance to do some really big races in Italy.”
After Bahrain-Merida confirmed he would be a stagiaire for them, Padun showed his class by winning the prestigious GP Capodarco. Despite having two one-day race wins in 2017, Padun says his speciality is “stage races. I excel in the GC battles with my stamina and these races are the ones I want to target in the future.”
Mark ended the interview by stating that his role as a stagiaire with Bahrain-Merida is more about “gaining a new experience”, rather than earning a pro deal. He also gave other teams hope by confirming that “for the moment, I don’t have a pro contract for 2018.” Should Bahrain-Merida opt not to sign him, someone else will. Mark Padun is a great talent and one to look out for in the future.