Viatcheslav Vladimirovich Ekimov (Russian Вячеслав Владимирович Екимов; born February 4, 1966 in Vyborg near St Petersburg, Russia), nicknamed Eki, was a heralded professional bicycle racer. An Olympic gold and silver medalist, he was awarded the title of Russian Cyclist of the Century in 2001.
Ekimov started training as a cyclist at age 12 with a bicycle school affiliated with the famous centre of Alexander Kuznetsov. He trained in Leningrad at Lokomotiv and later Armed Forces sports society during the Soviet era. He first competed professionally in 1990.
Ekimov won two Olympic gold medals: in the track team pursuit in Seoul (1988) for the USSR, and in an upset, in the road time trial in Sydney (2000) for Russia. At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Ekimov won the silver medal for Russia in the men’s road individual time trial, losing to American Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton’s initial blood sample tested positive for blood doping, but the lab mistakenly froze the backup sample, rendering it unsuitable for the required second test. Though the Russian Olympic committee appealed the final standings on Ekimov’s behalf, the lab’s error made it impossible to definitively establish Hamilton’s culpability and the American retained the gold medal. (Hamilton again tested positive a few weeks later and received a two-year competition ban.)
Ekimov joined the USPS team in 1997 as its first key international signing, briefly retiring in 2001 before rejoining the team the following year. In the 2003 Tour de France Ekimov placed 10th in the prologue. He was a key force in the winning team time trial effort in stage four and was important to Lance Armstrong’s fifth Tour victory both on the flats and in the mountains. He missed the 2004 Tour de France due to a injuries received in a training ride. During the final stage of the 2006 Tour de France, now racing for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, he announced that the 2006 Tour would be his last. He was honored by the peloton on the final stage, who allowed him to lead them over the line on the first of the eight laps of the Champs-Élysées. Ekimov started and finished 15 Tours de France, tying him with Lucien Van Impe for the second most Tour finishes.
In September 2006 he finished riding for Discovery, but stayed with the team as Directeur Sportif with Johan Bruyneel. He helped guide the Discovery riders during the U.S. Pro Cycling Championships in 2006 as well as the Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia.