“I am really happy!” Špilak said in a team press release. “This was a main objective in the season and I was very motivated, so to get this victory is incredible. After a lot of second and third places, finally I have managed again to win a big race. Of course this is the biggest victory in my career.”
Špilak went into the stage 9, 38km time trial in third place overall, 47 seconds behind the previous day's leader Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and 34 seconds behind Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). As Thibaut lost time in the final stage, Thomas became the favourite to win the overall, however, the Briton only managed fifth place on the day.
With a second-place finish in the time trial, behind winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), Špilak jumped ahead to take the overall victory by five seconds ahead of Thomas and 19 ahead of Dumoulin.
“This week was a hard one, but I felt good and strong and the team provided great support for me,” he said. “I want to thank all of the guys, management and sponsors for everything they did to make this win possible.
“Yesterday I could see the circuit and I realized it suited me well. It was really hard but I like the races like this. So I was motivated and concentrated in the morning before the start.
“In the race, I did my best and it worked out well for me. It was a very intense part of the season so now I will take some rest. And I am happy to go home with such a great trophy! In two days I have my birthday - what a great present I have!”
Špilak’s win at the Tour de Suisse was his first of the 2015 season. He has had strong performances at Paris-Nice, with second places in stage 6 and the stage 7 time trial, and third place overall behind winner Richie Porte (Team Sky) and runner-up Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep).
He did one better at the Tour de Romandie with second place in the stage 6 time trial and second overall for the third consecutive year (he also won the title in 2010), this time behind his Katusha teammate Ilnur Zakarin.
“Simon was very motivated to win,” said Katusha director Torsten Schmidt. “This was always his goal and he trained very hard for this. In the end, he did it and it’s fantastic for him.
“We were very aware of his closest competitors in this race and when we saw his second split-time where he was ahead, it was great to follow him in the car and hope for the victory.”
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Kirsten Frattini has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level all the way to the World Cup. She is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. Kirsten has worked in both print and digital publishing. She started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006, and was responsible for reporting from the US and Canadian racing scene. Now as a Production Editor, she produces international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits global news and writes features.
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