By Shane Stokes in Switzerland
Vladimir Karpets took the biggest win of his career on Sunday when he jumped from third to first overall in the Tour de Suisse. A strong time trial performance saw him run out the final victor ahead of Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) and Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel).
"It is my second big victory this season as I already won the Tour of Catalunya," he said. "This is more significant, though, as it is a bigger race. It was also a very important test before the Tour de France.
"After the victory of Fränk Schleck in Malbun, I thought that he was going to be the strongest rider in the Tour de Suisse. But things worked out well for me in the end.
"I want to thank all my team-mates of Caisse d'Epargne for the fantastic job they did during these nine stages. I also want to congratulate my fellow-citizen Vladimir Efimkin for the great race he realized. The time trail is not his speciality and therefore he lost some time today, but he nevertheless accomplished a great race."
Karpets said that he would return to his Spanish home in Pamplona and take a few days rest before continuing his build-up for the Tour de France.
He was best young rider in the 2004 Tour, finishing 13th. He's been in great form this year but plays down any suggestions that he will go there as a protected rider. "We have a clear leader in the Tour, Alejandro [Valverde]. We will ride for him there but perhaps I can get a stage win one of the days."