La Vuelta a España Stage 9: Etixx - Quick-Step Trio on the attack, Brambilla Finishes 19th
Etixx - Quick-Step riders Nikolas Maes, Pieter Serry, and Maxime Bouet made sure the team was well represented in the breakaway of the day at 168.3km La Vuelta a España Stage 9, from Torrevieja to Cumbre del Sol. Benitatxell, on Sunday.
The trio of Etixx - Quick-Step riders made the 14-man breakaway. Maes eventually lost contact, but Serry and Bouet pushed on in anticipation of the Category 1 summit finale.
Inside 13km to go, after the intermediate sprint, Bouet launched an attack. He was followed by Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo), and eventually Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) bridged to the two leaders. It seemed the peloton might let the breakaway slip away inside the final 10 kilometers, with the gap at about a minute. But once the breakaway approached the roughly 4 kilometer climb, with very steep ramps, the gap dropped drastically. All riders of the original breakaway were swept up with 3.4km remaining.
Attacks flew out of the peloton and a select group of GC contenders formed. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) attacked twice, but his second acceleration with 1.7km to go was the one that actually gave him a gap.
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) tried to bridge alone but he was joined by Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). Eventually Rodriguez tried to launch an attack, but Froome went over the top of him, and it looked like Froome could win the stage, But Dumoulin was not finished, as he passed Rodriguez and then went over the top of Froome to get the stage victory. Froome finished 2nd, and Rodriguez took 3rd place. Gianluca Brambilla of Etixx - Quick-Step finished 19th, 1'21" down.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to the final stage of week 1 before the rest day: 146.6km Stage 10, from Valencia to Borja. There is a Category 3 and Category 2 climb to pass, but the final kilometers are flat.
"I was the last one of the last riders to enter in the breakaway," Serry said. "I really wanted to be there today. I did a few training camps in the area of the finale, so it is well known to me, and it was my goal to be there. We worked really well together. Nikolas Maes also did a great job in the time he could follow the tempo. But unfortunately, behind us Katusha decided to lead the chase. So we didn't have enough space to try and do something in the final. But considering everything I am happy. Today we were there and sooner or later we will make it."
"This morning I was a little under pressure (laughs)," Bouet said. "I was one of the few riders of the team to not get in a breakaway yet. I tried a few times in the last stages, but it was impossible. Today I managed to enter, and I was really happy to be there. We worked really well. We had a lot of headwind during the race, so it was also hard work. In the final I did what I could, but I knew the group was coming. I am satisfied, though. Earlier this year I didn't ride at the level I was supposed to be at. I had a few small problems. But now I feel I am better. I still miss something in my condition, but I am in the right way to do a good rest of La Vuelta, and rest of the season. I want to do it for the team that believes in me. I think I can make some good performances and will try in the next days. Until now we are the team with the most guys in the breakaway, and we want to continue like that. I will do my best to help the cause."