While Giro d'Italia leader Joaquim Rodriguez has a cadre of Spaniards for support on the Katusha Team - Daniel Moreno, Alberto Losada and his roommate Angel Vicioso - he's also reaping the benefit of riding for a Russian team with the likes of strong rouleurs Pavel Brutt and Mikhail Ignatiev at his side. Team Katusha was built in 2009 on the foundations of the Tinkoff that made its debut at the 2007 Giro d'Italia. Five years ago, Brutt and Ignatiev were true attackers who fired up the corsa rosa.
"Now we're riding a more structured kind of cycling," Brutt told Cyclingnews in Assisi. "It's out of question to break away. We're here to win the Giro with Joaquim."
Rodriguez was adamant that Katusha would set the pace of the bunch in case of a breakaway "as the mark of respect for the pink jersey," the Spaniard said, but at the start of stage 11, Brutt revealed that the Russian team intended to let all the work to the sprinters. Eventually, Katusha contributed to the chase behind the five escapees but the bunch was cruising between 36 and 37km/h only.
"We expect more work in the coming days," said Brutt. "But we don't know how things will go really because all the protagonists for the overall classification are kind of watching each other. Compared to my first participation to the Giro d'Italia five years ago, I've noticed a very significant difference of behavior. Efforts are more calculated these days. Five years ago, it was more about courage."
Brutt is fully committed to playing his part in delivering the first Grand Tour victory for a Russian team. "Being the national champion makes me proud of doing this work for Purito," said the 30-year-old St. Petersburg resident, who won the Limburg Classic in March carrying the flag for Russia. "When I started cycling, it was my absolute dream to be the champion of Russia. I love this jersey."
Brutt delivered the first win of the Tinkoff team in the big leagues with stage 9 of Le Tour de Langkawi in 2007. In 2008, he won stage 5 of the Giro d'Italia in Contursi Terme. But now Brutt's courage is channeled in a defensive system in support of his team captain.