Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) rocketed back into the business of winning with Tuesday's stage of the Vuelta a Burgos. The 22 year-old Russian proved himself to be in top form after early season wins in the Tour Méditerranéen and 44th Trofeo Laigueglia with an attack from the field to win by 34 seconds over the likes of Valverde and Garzelli.
The victory by 'Misha' over the 150-kilometre parcours around Miranda de Ebro came after a day of driving from Italy to Spain.
"To tell the truth, it was perhaps the most unexpected of all my victories," he explained to Tinkoff's Press Officer Sergey Kurdyukov after the stage. "It so happened that I had to go to Spain from Italy by car, I drove all the way from Marseille [France] ... went to bed well after two. It came just natural that the sports director Orlando Maini told me not to aim too high and listen to my body. But the body said 'OK' right after the start, so, I made up my mind to give it a try.
"The breakaway didn't form all of a sudden, it turned out a painstaking business; the pack almost sucked us in a couple of times. I had only one bottle in the cage, and the commissaries held back the team cars as the gap was less than one minute but it never grew big enough until finally the peloton let us go on the climb of the day – what a relief to have something to drink!
"Luckily enough, the weather was mild for this region and the time of year, there were some clouds above and some breeze to cool off. There were three of us Tinkoff riders in the leading pack, Steffen Weigold and Totò Commesso did quite a lot for my eventual success, they took powerful pulls while I stayed in the wheels for long spans. We mapped it out as follows: I try to break away, if I fail they contest mass sprint in what would be left of the front pack."
The sprint for second was won by Daniel Moreno (Relax-GAM) over Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo). "I was fortunate to pick the right moment for the attack in the tail wind when the speed was high, and I really felt that I was able to ride alone quicker than with a couple of them, even if I had chance to relax for a couple of moments."
The young and powerful Russian, gold medallist in the 2004 Olympic points race, was presented with the leader's purple jersey. "They gave me three jerseys on the podium, so I was at a loss to tell which one was for the general classification: I also won the young rider's one and the one for combined classification.
He was forced to release in the following mountain stage won by Mauricio Soler (Barloworld). "Well, it could be a pleasure to dream of holding on to the overall leadership, but I'd rather be a realist and focus on yet another possible stage victory, the time trial holds a special importance for me."
Ignatiev's previous win came in the prologue of the Ster Elektrotoer, June 19. For more information on 'Misha' read The first of many more to come for Ignatiev.