Kanstantin Siutsou proved he is back to his best and ready to play an important role in Bradley Wiggins' assault on the Giro d'Italia with his solo stage 2 victory at the Giro del Trentino on Wednesday.
The former under 23 road race world champion was one of Wiggins' key teammates in 2012 but crashed out of the Tour de France on stage 3, fracturing his tibia. He has gone through a long rehabilitation to return to form but showed his class on the 14km climb, attacking with Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole) with nine kilometres to go and then going clear alone to win.
The quiet but classy Belarus rider put his hand on his heart as he celebrated victory, thanking his family and team.
"This is a special day for me, for my family and for the team. The team gave me time and a lot of help to come back, they helped me in the difficult moments. I can say I'm back and at a high level and even a bit better than I was last year,' he said in the press conference near the finish.
"I knew I as riding well after our Tenerife camp, and I thought I could win today. Bradley gave me the green light to try something. We were there to help Brad, but he said I could go for it, so I did. I think we proved yet again that we're a team with more than just one or two team leaders."
Siutsou was the first to attack before being joined by Rolland and Pirazzi. He was clearly much stronger.
"I did two attacks and when I realised they couldn't do much, I accelerated gradually to make them suffer," he said.
"I also knew that the higher we went, it would be harder for them and easier for me because I've done the work at altitude to be good on the climbs."
Ready for the Giro d'Italia
Siutsou finished 14th in the 2009 Giro d'Italia and ninth in 2011, while riding for Team High Road. He will be one of the cornerstones of Team Sky at this year's Corsa Rosa.
"Today was a test for the Giro. We tried some things. Our form is growing and we hope it'll grows more during the Giro d'Italia," Siutsou warned.
"It was good to win the team time trial because the team worked to perfection. Today they were good too, doing work on the flat and then on the climb. I think we'll be good for the Giro, we'll be ready."