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ALPE DI SIUSI, Italy (VN) — Alexander Foliforov upset the favorites for the Giro d’Italia’s stage 15 time trial in the Dolomites Sunday and warned, “This won’t be the last time you’ll hear my name.”
The 24-year-old Russian, riding his first grand tour for Pro Continental squad Gazprom – RusVelo, edged out race leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL – Jumbo) by a fraction of a second (0.16) to win the mountain time trial.
It may not be the last time that fans will hear his name, but today, in sun-soaked northeast Italy, it was the first for many.
“I don’t even know who he is,” said Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who is riding his 19th grand tour.
“It’s a surprise. He’s not in the general classification, and in a stage like today, normally a general classification rider wins. But he won, so compliments to him. Yes, it’s bit of a surprise to everyone.”
He was the 110th out of 167 starters in the 10.8-kilometer stage. His teammate Sergey Firsanov, who began later, was supposed to be the star of the day, but Foliforov shined brightest. He finished in 28:39 and waited an hour and a half for the confirmation that his was the fastest time.
“That’s a big surprise,” said Addy Engels, sports director for LottoNL – Jumbo. “I don’t know much about him. I know his name, but when I left the bus to follow Steven, I said, ‘They are not going to beat his time by much.’ In the end, no one could. It was obviously he did a really good TT.”
“The Russians always go all out, and today he found his good day,” Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said. “He lives on Lake Garda, knows the climb, so I don’t think that he stole this win from anyone.
“Maybe already yesterday or two days ago, he started to think about today. But it’s a bit of a surprise. When you topple these champions here that means that you had a super day.”
Foliforov lives in Desenzano del Garda, but comes from Kovrov in Russia’s west, in Vladimir Oblast.
He knows mountain time trials well. He placed third in a mountain time trial in a top Italian amateur stage race, the Giro della Valle d’Aosta, in 2012, and won a time trial of similar distance – and the eventual overall – in Russia’s Tour of Sochi last year. In the 2014 Coppi e Bartali, he placed fifth behind Dario Cataldo (then with Sky) and ahead of Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka, who went on to win the worlds last year.
“It’s my best distance, and I won one mountain time trial in Russia and that third in in Aosta, so it’s my favorite discipline,” he said.
“Yes, I’m a climber. In Russia we have mountains, but only in the south. My favorite mountain is Axun, where I won the Tour of Sochi.”