Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d?Epargne) and Fabian Cancellara (CSC) showed they are on form and ready for the Tour de France with impressive victories on the final day of the Tour of Switzerland.
Karpets was only sixth in the final 33.7km individual time trial stage around Berne, but gained enough time on his closest rivals to move from third to first place overall and win his second ProTour stage race of the spring.
Five riders were within a minute of the leader Vladimir Efimkin before the start of today’s very tough and technical time trial, but it was his Caisse D’Epargne team mate Karpets who blitzed the overall contenders to win the race overall by 1-04 min ahead of Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) and 1-30 ahead of Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel).
Karpets? team mate and compatriot Vladimir Efimkin started the time trial with a 30 second advantage but had a nightmare ride and finished more than two minutes slower than Karpets and slipped to sixth place overall at 1-46.
26 year-old Karpets was only the second Russian rider to win the Tour of Switzerland after Pavel Tonkov?s success in 1995.
?This is my second stage race victory this season after winning the Volta Catalunya in May and shows I?m having a good year,? the rider with the biggest sideburns in cycling said after his win.
?I?ve shown I?m ready for the Tour de France and Caisse d?Epargne will have a strong team with Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Pereiro, Efimkin and me. I?m going to rest for a few days and then train at home to prepare the Tour de France.?
CANCELLARA DOMINATES TIME TRIALS
Current world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland dominated the time trial in his hometown in a time of 41 minutes and 46 seconds. Andreas Kloden and Stefan Schumacher of Germany finished second and third at 20 and 33 seconds respectively.
Cancellara?s performance and victories in both the short opening time trial and the final test showed he is the big favourite for the Tour de France prologue time trial on Saturday July 7 in London.
He was angry that UCI commissaire?s questioned the legality of his time trial bike before the start but turned his anger into speed to storm round the course. If he has similar form in London on July 7 he could ruin the hopes of both Bradley Wiggins and Dave Millar by dominating the Tour de France prologue.