Vainsteins was a member of the Latvian cycling team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He competed in the road race and finished in 106th place with a time of 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 54 seconds. The winner of the race finished in 4:53:56.
Vainsteins, who began cycling at the age of 11 and first competed in road races seven years later, is currently one of the top road cyclists in the world. At the age of 18, he moved to Belgium because of Latvia's long winters, although he began competing for the Latvian National team in his early twenties (he continues to train abroad). In the mid-1990s, at the under-23 European Championships, Vainsteins finished in second place, the best result of his career up to that point. In 2000, Romans was ranked in the top ten in the world (a month before the 2000 Olympics, he was No. 4, one spot ahead of American Lance Armstrong).
Vainsteins angered fans in Latvia when he decided against competing in the 2000 Olympic Games to concentrate on the World Championships instead. Many criticized his decision because they felt he was actually refusing to compete under the national flag. But Vainsteins knew what he was doing. In October 2000, one month after the Olympics, with the help of only one teammate -- which makes the feat even more impressive -- Vainsteins won the World Championships in France. He was suddenly hailed a hero by the countrymen who had so recenly vilified him. Arturs Vaiders, sports editor at Latvia's leading daily newspaper Diena said, "He needed to achieve something at these world championships to change the attitude of the Latvian nation...He needed a medal and he knew it."
In 2001, Vainsteins began cycling with a new team called Domo Farm-Frites and in April, he was ranked No. 1 on World Cup Cycling circuit after 3 races. The team captain, he raced in the 2001 Tour de France, finishing second in the first stage and tenth in the sixth stage; Vainsteins finished 132nd overall. Lance Armstrong became the first American to win the event three times.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 3, 1973
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