La Vuelta a España Stage 4: Brambilla Crosses in Top 20 of Animated Finale
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Gianluca Brambilla finished 18th in the animated, undulating finale of 209.6km Stage 4, from Estepona to Vejer de la Frontera, on Tuesday.
Despite attacks from Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA), Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team), and Nicholas Roche (Team Sky), the pace was too high in the steep uphill sections and a small group decided the stage. Roche bridged to Sanchez, and then pressed on solo, but was caught meters before the line.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the stage over Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha). Brambilla finished in a slightly larger group that crossed 3" behind.
The race came back together with 11.1km to go, as two riders remained ahead out of an original six-rider breakaway, which included Etixx - Quick-Step rider Nikolas Maes. The duo went ahead with about 26km left to race, and the gap at 1 minute.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to a flat, 167.3km Stage 5, from Rota to Ronda on Wednesday.
"It was a really fast paced race going into the last four and a half kilometers," Brambilla said. "Fortunately the guys gave me a hand. Also Niki Terpstra was there in the front, but we lost each other about one kilometer from the bottom of the climb. I managed to stay in about position number 30 heading into the climb. Along the climb I was pretty OK, but of course in the final there were guys who on paper are better than me on this kind of finish. So, I'm pretty happy about what I did. I hope to continue like this and see what the next days can bring."
"We went away after the second or third attack," Maes said. "OK, maybe we picked the worst day to enter the breakaway as it was the longest stage of La Vuelta. But you have to try and you never know what you can do. In the breakaway we tried to save something for the final. But Tinkoff-Saxo worked hard in the chase and we understood that it was impossible to make it to the finish. But it was a good day to stay in front. We will try to find another chance in the next days."