Some kind of attack has changed the general classification of the Giro d’Italia every day this year and on Friday it was Vladimir Karpets’ turn to make the unexpected move with 65 kilometres to go into stage 13. There was a breakaway of 17 riders seven minutes ahead but the big Russian Katusha rider went on a solo attack to the surprise of many riders.
“Everybody said they would attack but nobody else did”, said Katusha’s directeur sportif Serge Parsani.
Stage 13 could have been important for the overall classification as the race used two of the climbs of the famous Gran Fondo ‘Nove Colli’ Europe’s most popular sportif ride due to take place around Cesenatico on Sunday.
Karpets refused to talk to reporters even after he had taken his shower inside the Katusha team bus. When he walked in, he looked seriously furious. “He was tired”, said Parsani. In a press release from his team, Karpets said: “I felt good today and I broke away on the first climb. I had not planned it, I followed my sensation. I took 2.24, it was good but now I still miss ten minutes. If my shape is good, I hope to do well in the next stages”.
The tactics of Katusha was questioned in Cesenatico. Rubens Bertogliati who was in the breakaway talked about the behaviour of the two riders from the Russian team who were in the front group: Sergeï Klimov and Joan Horrach. “For most of the time we were away, all the riders took their turns”, Bertogliati told Cyclingnews. “But at some stage, the two Katusha guys didn’t pull anymore and they said they were waiting for Karpets who was on his way across to us. But why haven’t they stopped and really waited for him to help gain time over the bunch?”
Parsani answered that question: “When Karpets only had one minute advantage over the bunch, I didn’t feel like asking Klimov and Horrach to wait for him as it was uncertain if Karpets could stay clear off the bunch. Unfortunately there was no reaction at the back. Once he got two minutes, I asked Horrach to wait for him and help him gain time.” Klimov remained in the front group and finished 9th. Horrach paced for Karpets in the last ten kilometres of the race.
In the new general classification, Karpets has moved up to 14th place just in between Alexandre Vinokourov and Cadel Evans. He is only 2:57 down on Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) who is currently considered as the best placed favourite for overall victory in the Giro.
Karpets was a late inclusion on Katusha’s roster for the Giro d’Italia because he wanted to continue racing hard after finishing fifth overall at the Tour of Romandie. His plan was to evaluate his position in the overall classification half way through the Giro and see if it was worth staying in the race or not. Even though his bonus could have been bigger than 2.24 in Cesenatico if his team had supported him earlier during the stage, he has now become and overall contender as the mountains of the final week approach.