By Anahid Yeremian

Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, a 19 year-old Armenian cycling sensation medals in every international competition of his age group that he participates in. Born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia, Hovhannisyan trains with master trainers Albert Soloyan and Armen Gyozalian, at the Olympic Cycling School in Yerevan. If you want to see this young man in action visit the following and other You Tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D11x4hStZCo

I first met Hovik, as his friends call him, and
his fellow cyclists when they joined the final few miles of our bike-a-thon in Armenia to raise awareness and funds for the scientists of the Cosmic Ray Division of Yerevan Physics Institute. Until then, I had no idea that a cycling school even exists in Armenia, let alone that they produce internationally recognized champions.Hovhannisyan is a quiet and humble person, but when he gets on his bike he becomes a tiger. I had the privilege of watching him and other Armenian cyclists race at the velodrome in Yerevan in the All-Armenia races in June of 2013. There were many different kinds of races collectively called an Omnium: individual races of different lengths, team races, junior races, senior races, and one really interesting one called the elimination race. In this latter, just about every cyclist in the competition gets on the track and after the first round around the track the competition starts. The last person in the pack gets eliminated every two rounds. Last man still riding wins the race. In principle the last man will have ridden about 60 to 80 rounds depending on the number of the original competitors. You can see a sample of the elimination race at the 2013 All-Armenia races, which Hovhannisyan won, on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ubI6gszwsc .

So there are many different kinds of races and different athletes participate in different ones. Winners from the All Armenia races then represent Armenia in various international competitions. Hovhannes Hovhannisyan’s collection of accomplishments include:

Race dedicated to Hovhannes’ grand father, Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, November 2013: First place in time trials and group road races, and the total point for all the races. From the same Olympic cycling school Artur Najaryan took second place in time trials and the road race, Hrayr Hovhannisyan took third place in the road race and in the general total points, Edgar Stepanyan took first place in the road race and general point classification and second place in the time trials while Pavel Stepanyan took second in the road race and third place in the time trial and general points in the Junior category.

Figure 1

European Track Championships in Anadia Portugal, July 2013: First place in the 15 km race, 4th place in the 10 km race, 5th place in the elimination race.

Warsaw Grand Prix, Poland, June, 2013: Second place.

All Armenia Races, June, 2013: First place in the 25 km race in the senior category, as a junior himself. First place in the 20 km race, first place in the elimination race. From this same school seniors Varsham Darbinyan took second place in the 25 km race. In these same races in the junior category from the Armenian Olympic Cycling school Pavel Stepanyan took first place in the 3 km race, Edgar Stepanyan took second place in 3 km race and 60 km races, Edward Matosyan took first place in the omnium,

Race dedicated to Freedom fighter Samvel Gevorgyan, Armenia, June, 2013: Omnium, first place. Varsham Darpinyan and Edward Matosyan from the Olympic Cycling School took second and third place respectively. Samvel Gevorgyan was a cyclist sports-master of USSR who perished in the battle to liberate Shushi in 1991. His son, a member of the Armenian Parliament, Artur Gevorgyan presented the awards.

Cup of Polan races, May, 2013: Third place in 3 km individual pursuit and second place in 105 km road race.

International Tour de Mazandaran race in Iran, September, 2013: Third place in the 110 km stage on the first day, Forth place on the 95 km mountain stage on the fifth day.

International Tour de Mazandaran race in Iran, September, 2012: Second place in the 89 km stage on the first day, Second place in the 105 km mountain stage race on the second day, third place in the 108 km mountain stage race on the third day. Also Armenian Edward Matosyan took third place in the 89 km first stage of this race on the first day.

International Friendship races in Donesk, Ukraine, September, 2011: Second place in three different races which earned him the first place in overall points among all the participants. This race is also on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slMM-Iz13aY


European Olympic Festival, Trabizon, Turkey, July, 2011: Winner of the Semi-Final.
Hovhanisyan also participated in the Senior competitions in the Cup of Russia international races in Saint Petersburg this summer, where he competed against athletes several years older than him and took an impressive 8th place out of 300 participants.

The Armenian Olympic Cycling School is home to some 230 athletes from the age of 10 to 30 who take the sport of cycling seriously. Its founder, Mr. Albert Soloyan, is an internationally respected trainer who has trained champions in Soviet Armenia and later in Honk Kong, Malaysia, and Iran. In 2008 he returned home to Armenia to found the Armenian Olympic Cycling school and is training champions in his homeland. He, his capable staff, and hard-working talented athletes have revived the sport of cycling in Armenia with very limited resources. Not only they have revived it, they have caused Armenia to excel in it. Mr. Soloyan, the coaching staff, the team doctor, the team mechanic, and the administrative staff treat the athletes as their own. Besides training them as cyclists, they mentor them in life-skills. This school is another of the hidden gems in Armenia that deserves to be revealed to the world and supported by the Armenian government and by philanthropists in Armenia and the Diaspora.

If you wish to know more about the Armenian Olympic Cycling School or to lend support please contact me on our CRD website www.crdfriends.org , I Want to Help link.

1 comment
  1. On two occasions in Armenia I met some of our cycling athletes and their coaches at the bikathon to support the Cosmic Ray Division. I can not adequately express how impressed I was by these athletes and the dedication of their coaches. The athletes are motivated to be the best they can possibly be, and to represent Armenia as such. Shortly after meeting these young athletes in Yerevan I was in the town of Nor Kharpet. A young man came up to me and introduced himself. He was one of the cyclists and remembered me taking photographs a few weeks earlier. I was impressed by his courtesy, his self-assurance, his maturity, his humility, and the way he presented himself. Not only do the Armenian cycling coaches train their charges to perform athletically, they also are superb mentors to a generation of young, gifted Armenian athletes. I’m sure the coaches and athletes have to overcome many difficulties including a lack of resources. We all should be proud of these young Armenians and their coaches and support them to whatever extent is possible.

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