"I was secure of myself today"
By Gregor Brown in Monte Pora
Belarus' Vasili Kiryienka pulled off a number on the drenched Lombardia day to Monte Pora, Giro d'Italia stage 19. The 26 year-old of Tinkoff Credit Systems joined the day's major move at kilometre 57 and then confidently ditched his companions with 16 remaining, riding ahead of the overall classification slugfest between Contador, Di Luca and Riccò.
Kiryienka, a third-year professional, got on with his battle ahead of what was left of the day's original seven-man escape group and the charge of Italy's Danilo Di Luca, who was on the hunt for time over race leader Alberto Contador. He kept clear by 4'36" to claim his biggest win today over the 2007 Giro d'Italia winner, Di Luca.
He comes from a track background and comparisons were made to his 2006 World Points Race Championship title. "I had bigger emotions with with my gold on the track," he recalled after the stage. "However, today was great for me and the team." He added to Pavel Brutt's win in stage five to Contursi Terme.
Though he is known for his speed on the track, Kiryienka showed well over the stage-ending climbs of Passo della Presolana and Monte Pora. "It worked out this way," he reckoned. "I am a world champion on the track and, unfortunately, I am not that strong on the climbs. I have become better on the climbs and usually don't go that slow."
When he bridged to join the escape it was done so with precision. "In a way my track background helped me out today. I calculated my leg spins, said 'If I don't enter the escape immediately, then it won't work.'"
The Belarusian might have been missing his simplified track bike at the base of Presolana. He was forced off his road machine and, for a minute, looked to be out of contention after suffering from a mechanical. However, a quick bike change and hard surge got him back to the front three riders, Nicki Sørensen (Team CSC), Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step) and Steve Cummings (Barloworld).
"I am a used to this," he explained "I throw the bike to the side of the road and I asked for another with a smile. They gave me another bike and I took back the others – I was secure of myself today."