Vladimir Karpets had no problems keeping the opposition under control in Sunday?s last stage of the Tour of Catalonia, which saw Briton Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) in a long break which only collapsed at the foot of the final climb, the Mont Tibidabo.
Wiggins took off after 40 kilometres on the stage from Lloret de Mar to Barcelona, together with two Francaise des Jeux riders, Benoit Vaugrenard and Sandy Casar. The three initially worked well together and Wiggins and Casar were only reeled in with some 10 kilometres left to race.
On the four kilometre final climb of Tibidabo Caisse D?Epargne rider Karpets closely shadowed his most dangerous gc rival, Denis Menchov (Rabobank). That strategy proved more than enough to secure the 26-year-old Russian a key victory in his career, one which gave him a welcome boost to his morale in the countdown to the Tour de France. The stage itself was won by Spaniard Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who took off two kilometres from the line.
?I had some tough days, especially Thursday in Andorra where I was isolated in the front group.? Karpets said afterwards.
?But fortunately I could pull back enough time in Friday?s mountain time trial to get a good margin overall.?
Australian Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) finished second overall, a result which shows he is well on track for theTour de France. Third was Menchov, tied on time with Rogers.
?We?ve had a great race, with two stage wins thanks to Mark [Cavendish] and Michael?s second place overall.? T-Mobile team directeur sportif Jan Schaffrath told CW?s website.
Cavendish was unable to hold on to the points jersey lead overall on Sunday after Menchov upped the pace on the final climb behind Sanchez to take third on the stage.
?It’s a pity, but in any case we can’t complain at all.? Schaffrath said. ?Mark has done brilliantly here.?
TOUR OF CATALONIA: STAGE SEVEN RESULTS
(Lloret de Mar-Barcelona)
1 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 119.3km in 2-46-08
2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 5sec
3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 9sec
4 John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R
5 David De La Fuente (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse D?Epargne
7 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile
8 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Unibet.com
9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2R
10 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Relax-Gam all st
147 Mark Cavendish (GBR) T-Mobile at 7-55
148 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Cofidis at st
164 David Millar (GBR) Saunier Duval-Prodir at 9-05
FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION
1 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse D?Epargne
2 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile at 40sec
3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at st
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2R at 1-34
5 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Relax-Gam at st
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Relax-Gam at 1-59
7 John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R at 2-19
8 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Karpin-Galicia at 2-39
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Hol) Unibet.com at 2-44
10 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery at 2-47
135 David Millar (GBR) Saunier Duval-Prodir at 31-35
138 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Cofidis at 31-58
165 Mark Cavendish (GBR) T-Mobile at 52-49