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Tomas Vaitkus is one of the newest members of Discovery Channel Pro Cycle Team.

When I first met this tall, handsome, blue-eyed, 25-year old rider at the departure of the 2007 Paris-Nice race, it was “love at first sight”, perhaps because he reminded me so much of my son Raphael.

I knew nothing about him, and had only heard his name once during a TV broadcast of a stage of the Giro d’Italia, which he had won a year earlier. It was the first time a Lithuanian had ever won a stage in the Giro.


Tomas is tall (6’1/186cm), slim (176lbs/80kg), with a receding hair line which gives him a mature look. He’s got sparkling blue eyes highlighted by suntanned skin, and a charming smile with childlike dimples. I see in him a very elegant rider and probably a heart throb.

Tomas speaks English, Italian and Russian, and, apart from cycling, his favorite sport as well as hobby is car racing. He obviously likes to take risks. You could see it by the way he started the Grenoble Prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné 2007.

He was the first Discovery rider to start. The rain was coming down in sheets, the road was awfully slippery, but bold Tomas left like a rocket and returned a few minutes later, having completed the 4-kilometer ride under the storm, soaked through, water dripping from his helmet and all over his drenched body.

Instead of getting dry, he sat on a trainer and exercised for fifteen minutes. When I asked him how he felt, he smiled and said in Russian oujasna which means “awful”. Although I felt sorry for him, I was proud of his attitude.

Tomas Vaitkus was born on 4th February 1982 (Aquarius like Chechu and my son) in Klaipeda, the main Lithuanian sea port on the Baltic sea, and third city in Lithuania with its 200,000 inhabitants.

Up to the end of World War I, Klaipeda has been a Prussian city in the middle of the Lithuanian countryside, under the name of Memel. Klaipeda has a well-known historical town center and several museums. The national day is celebrated on February 18.

Although the official language is Lithuanian, since 30% of the population came from Russia during the Soviet period, Russian is commonly spoken as well as Polish.

In 2001, 19-year old Tomas Vaitkus won the three-kilometer Junior Pursuit World Championship.

In 2002, he won the Grand Prix des Nations Espoirs (time trial championship), and in 2003 he turned professional.

In 2003 and 2004, while part of the Belgium team Landbouwkrediet, he won the Lithuanian Road Race as well as the Time Trial championships, and secured several places of honor in other major races. He also finished in eighth place in the Track Team Pursuit at the 2004 Olympic Games.

In 2005 and 2006, while under contract with the French team AG2R Prévoyance, he secured many places of honor in the various stages of Flèche Wallone, Four Days of Dunkirk, Post Danmark Rundt and won the Seb Uhispanga Tartu GP.

Photograph by Fotoreporter Sirotti, cyclingnews.com

After Tomas won the spectacular stage 9, that followed a route along the Adriatic coast and finished in the little town of Termoli, during the 2006 Giro of Italia, finishing half a wheel in front of Olympic champion Paolo Bettini who, thinking he had won the stage raised his arms in sign of victory, Thomas Vaitkus gave a press conference.

In the small and packed classroom of the elementary school that hosted the world's cycling media, Tomas Vaitkus said, "I've always been pretty fast in sprints as well as in time trials. I raced as an amateur in Italy and I learnt a lot during my time here."

Bettini later accused Vaitkus of squeezing him towards the roadside barriers during the final meters of the sprint but the Lithuanian was not punished by race judges and said any movement was unintentional.

"I saw Bettini go on my left and when I jumped, I moved a bit to my left. That was because I was sprinting at 100 percent. It was a natural movement and definitely not intended to damage Bettini's sprint," Vaitkus said.

He also told the press gathering that he had won the stage so that he could meet the lady who ended up doing the Lithuanian-to-Italian translation. It turned out her main job at the Giro was as a podium girl, and she had asked several of the riders she had presented flowers to in the preceding days to say “hello” to the peloton's only Lithuanian rider.

"I guess this was the best way to meet her," charming Tomas Vaitkus joked.



AG2R Prévoyance

victories : GIRO d’ITALIA stage 9

3rd, stage 6, Giro d’Italia


AG2R Prévoyance

victories : SEB UHISPANGA TARTU overall

2nd overall, Lithuanian Time Trial Championships
2nd overall, Grote Scheldeprijs
2nd, stage 2, Fleche Wallonne
2nd, stage 2, Four Days of Dunkirk
2nd, stage 5, Four Days of Dunkirk
2nd, stage 6, Post Danmark Rundt
3rd, stage 4, Post Danmark Rundt
3rd, stage 4, Fleche Wallonne
4th overall, Post Danmark Rundt
6th overall, Circuit de la Sarthe




2nd, stage 8, Giro d’Italia
2nd, stage 6, Danmark Rundt
3rd, stage 4 Course de la Solidarite Olympique




2nd overall, Lithuanian Road Race Championships
2nd overall, GP Erik Breukink
3rd, stage 4, Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne


Photograph by Roberto Bettini, cyclingnews.com

Photograph by Fotoreporter Sirotti, cyclingnews.com