Pavel Brutt has made himself known this year; first with a wins in Langkawi and the GP Chiasso, and then with his daring escape in last Saturday's Milano-Sanremo. The 25 year-old Russian lasted 176 kilometres in La Classicissima before being caught but yesterday, with only 81 kilometres off the front, he was successful.
In Coppi e Bartali stage 1a he formed part of the day's three-man escape. They survived heavy downpours and the closing peloton to arrive in Riccione first. The Tinkoff Credit Systems rider was unable to out-power Alessandro Bertolini for the stage win but he had some consolation. His team took seventh in the afternoon time trial, 20 seconds back on winner Predictor-Lotto, which enabled Brutt to step into the leader's blue jersey.
"Pavel is going strong and this prize is truly deserved," said Director Sportif Orlando Maini after the stage. "All of our team held tight around Brutt in the eleven kilometres of the time trial to give him a chance [at the overall].
"Now we will try to defend this jersey, with the hopes of taking it all the way to Sassuolo [the final day's finish town - ed]."