Yaroslav Popovych is a Ukrainian former professional cyclist, who rode professionally from 2002 to 2016.
The winner of the under-23 road race at the 2001 UCI Road World Championships, Popovych turned professional in 2002 with Landbouwkrediet–Colnago, where he performed particularly strongly in the Giro d’Italia, finishing third in 2003. Upon joining Discovery Channel in 2005, his focus switched to the Tour de France, where he won the young riders’ classification in 2005 and won stage 12 in 2006. When Discovery Channel folded at the end of 2007, Popovych moved to Silence–Lotto in 2008 and on to Astana in 2009. Popovych also raced for Team RadioShack in 2010 and 2011. From 2012 until 2016 he rode with the UCI ProTour team Trek–Segafredo.
Popovych was born in Drohobych, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. He was considered one of the most promising cyclists while riding in junior and under-23 races after catching 35 victories in 2000 and 2001.He won the Under-23 Men’s road race in the 2001 UCI Road World Championships after finishing second the previous year. He also won the Paris–Roubaix edition for under-23 riders and Palio del Recioto. The Ukrainian turned pro in 2002 by joining the Belgian team Landbouwkrediet–Colnago and delivered some strong showings, most notably in the Giro d’Italia where he finished third in 2003 and fifth in 2004, when he wore the pink jersey during three stages.
Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (2005–07)
He joined the Discovery Channel in 2005 and he was considered as a possible successor to Lance Armstrong as the team leader. In this same year, Popovych took one of his best victories by winning the Volta a Catalunya, which is an important race before the Tour de France. Along with the rest of the Discovery team, he won stage four team time trial in the Tour de France and showed his potential by winning the young rider classification, while helping Armstrong win his seventh Tour de France at the time.
In the 2006 Tour de France, Popovych was considered one of the Discovery Channel team’s four leaders, along with José Azevedo, Paolo Savoldelli and George Hincapie. After failing to be among the best for the overall classification in the Pyrenees mountain stages, Popovych won stage 12 by repeatedly attacking his fellow breakaway compatriots Alessandro Ballan, Óscar Freire and Christophe Le Mével. During the 2006 season, he also won stages at the Vuelta a Castilla y León and Tour de Georgia, where he finished third.
Popovych mainly worked as a domestique during the 2007 season, aiding Alberto Contador to win Paris–Nice and the Tour de France. Early in the season, he won the fifth stage in Paris–Nice after attacking 33 kilometers (21 miles) from the finishing line. He was considered as the team leader for the Giro d’Italia, but he withdrew in the twelfth stage after suffering two crashes in the race. In the Tour de France, he finished eighth while working for Discovery Channel team-mates Contador and Levi Leipheimer.
In 2008, Popovych moved to Silence-Lotto squad after Discovery Channel announced that it would cease operations at the end of 2007.
Popovych was recruited as a domestique member of the Tour de France team primarily to support lead rider Cadel Evans, but had a rather disappointing year, with only a 3rd place in Paris–Nice to show for. At the end of the year, it was announced he would team up with his former Discovery manager Johan Bruyneel again in 2009, joining the new Astana team.
In 2009, Popovych and Armstrong joined the Kazakh-based cycling squad Astana, where many other former Discovery Channel riders and staff were also under contract. Popovych acted as a domestique for Contador in Paris–Nice, finishing 23rd himself.
On 15 October 2009 it was reported that Popovych would move to Team RadioShack for the 2010 season.
Team RadioShack (2010)
In 2010 Popovych followed many former Astana riders to the newly created American based squad Team RadioShack.