Tinkoff Credit Systems team leader Evgeni Petrov survived the battle of one of the hardest high mountain stages of the 90th Giro d'Italia and held on to his top-10 in the general classification.
"It was evident to everyone that Saunier Duval would attack," said the Russian, who today celebrates his 29th birthday, to Tinkoff's Press Officer Sergey Kurdyukov after the stage. "They had proved themselves two days before, with three of them making top-six. But few could anticipate they would attack so hard right from the beginning of the longest climb, Colle dell'Agnello."
Petrov tip his hat to Riccò and Piepoli's work. "When Riccardo Riccò gave that nasty pull, the peloton simply ceased to exist. I was ready for high tempo, but not ... so far from the finish, so I had to go on the defensive and keep my pace.
"We rode for quite a while with Marzio Bruseghin, I know him well from last year, and I knew he was aiming high overall, so I was sure he wouldn't falter," continued the rider who rode with Lampre in 2005 and 2006.
"I think we were in luck with the weather, not too cold at the top (at 2700 metres it could have snowed) and just a few drops of rain on Col d'Izoard on the way up. ... I hoped to find a good pack with which to shave off some seconds on the descent, but the race was all to pieces, riding in pairs or groups of three."
Petrov looked ahead. The "mountain time trial, is an event I basically like, and I hope to win back some time in the general classification. I saved myself in this gruelling Alpine stage and I have something left in me for the third week."