Etixx - Quick-Step rider Gianluca Brambilla moved into the top 10 of the overall classification, after cleverly being in front and entering the breakaway at 178km La Vuelta a España Stage 13 on Friday. Teammate Niki Terpstra also made the move, and the 24-rider escape group decided the stage. Brambilla finished 13th, and Terpstra 17th.
Brambilla is now 9th overall, 2'51" down on race leader Fabio Aru (Astana).
Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) won the stage solo, attacking inside 30km remaining in the race. Terpstra did his best to try and organize a chase behind, but Oliveira had too much of an advantage. Julien Simon (Cofidis) finished 2nd out of the group behind Oliveira, a minute down. Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) finished 3rd. The Brambilla group still finished several minutes ahead of the next riders on the road, which moved him up four places in the general classification.
The actions of Brambilla and Terpstra reflect the attitude of Etixx - Quick-Step throughout La Vuelta: Attack when there is an opportunity.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to 215km Stage 14 on Saturday, from Vitoria to Alto Campoo. Fuente del Chivo. Not only is Stage 14 the longest of La Vuelta, it is also a high mountain stage with an HC summit finale. Alto Campoo, about 18km in length, features several ramps between 7 and 9 percent gradient.
"Today at the start, the speed was unbelievable," Brambilla said. "Not only was the pace really high, but the road was always going up. I wasn't looking for the breakaway, but I was there in the front, and suddenly the group split, and I was in the first part. So, I was there, I looked around me, I saw Niki was with me and Sicard, who was also among the top GC riders in the breakaway. So we decided to keep going and see what can happen. There were a lot of riders in the group, so we started working together. The gap kept increasing. Then I took the intermediate sprint for the bonus seconds. In the last climb there was a lot of attacks. Oliveira was the smartest and the fastest. He went away on the downhill. Behind him we tried to chase and close the gap. Niki worked a lot. But Oliveira was really strong today, and it was impossible to close the gap. In the finale I also wanted to try and do the sprint and get a good result. But I was boxed in a bit on the right side while the sprint was happening on the other side of the road. I couldn't do any better than where I finished. I am still happy with today's result, as I moved into the top 10 of the overall. It was a nice action. Of course I spent some energy in the breakaway, but I was repaid with my GC position improvement. The next days will be really hard. I will have to do my best stage-after-stage. there are three uphill finishes in a row, so it won't be easy to defend my position, and we will probably see a lot more changes in the overall. But for now, I am here in the top 10, and I did a lot of work to get here. I will do my best to keep my position in a group of very strong riders at this Vuelta."more information
Etixx - Quick-Step will be busy racing over the weekend, with the Brussels Cycling Classic on Saturday, September 5th, and the GP de Fourmies / La Voix du Nord on Sunday, the 6th of September.
Brussels Cycling Classic, 200.8km in total distance, is one of the oldest races on the calendar. It was won recently by top sprinters of the peloton, including Tom Boonen in the 2012 season. However, there is plenty of undulation along the profile to make Brussels Cycling Classic selective.
"It's not an easy course, including the final," Sport Director Tom Steels said. "There are a few climbs similar to Brebantse Pijl, which makes the race harder. Also, when you arrive in Brussels, the roads are always up-and-down. So, it's a situation where you have to always stay focused. Brussels Cycling Classic usually ends with a small group deciding the winner. But of course there is still the possibility of attacks. The team will ride in support of Tom Boonen, who has always performed well here. So, if Tom will be OK in the final, the team will work for him. But there is also Julian Alaphilippe at the start. He is a smart guy who can enter into a few breakaways. Of course there are also riders present like the current UCI World Road Champion, Michal Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski comes back into competition after a period of recovery following Tour de Pologne and altitude training. We'll see what he can do at this race. This year's edition can also be conditioned by the weather. The forecast is not so good, so Brussels Cycling Classic might be even harder."
GP de Fourmies, 205km in distance, is a one-day competition with a mixed bag of past winners including sprint specialists and winners out of breakaways. Past editions demonstrated a demanding parcours, and a race that is hard to predict.
"GP de Fourmies is well organized, and perfect to prepare for Worlds and our upcoming races in Canada," Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. "It's a race of more than 200 kilometers. It often results in the peloton reducing kilometer-by-kilometer, but the local circuit that is passed five times, with a climb and some small uphill sectors, can make the difference. It will be an open race as usual, with a lot of options. Fortunately we have a team that can handle all the circumstances that may arise. So, we go there to be protagonists."
The selection for GP de Fourmies can be found here.more information
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Maxime Bouet earned the Most Combative/Most Aggressive Rider Award, after being meters away from going for a stage victory out of the 173km 12th Stage of La Vuelta a España, on Thursday. Bouet, the third Etixx - Quick-Step rider to be honored as "Most Combative," will wear the red bib numbers that represent the award for the following stage.
Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) won the disorganized bunch arrival, as teams were too busy chasing down the breakaway to form cohesive leadout trains. Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) finished in 2nd place, and Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal) took the final step of the stage podium. Nikolas Maes was close behind in 4th place. Niki Terpstra was 15th, after starting the sprint in the front of the group.
Bouet was part of a five-rider breakaway that formed very early in the stage, and the group worked well together throughout the race. Thanks to a late organization of the chase in the peloton, and good breakaway work distribution, the group still possessed a 16" advantage with 1.7km left in the stage. Jaco Venter (MTN - Qhubeka) decided the gap was enough for him to try his chance solo, and he attacked going into the last kilometer of racing. However, Bouet continued to fight for a possible stage victory, catching Venter, and grasping to a miniscule advantage over the peloton at 400 meters from the finish. Unfortunately, Bouet and Venter couldn't hold off a peloton at full speed preparing for the sprint, and they were caught before the line.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to 178km Stage 13, on Friday, from Calatayud to Tarazona. The medium mountain stage is still a challenging parcours, with three categorized climbs, plenty of up-and-down uncategorized climbing, and an uphill before the last kilometer of racing.
"This morning we decided before the stage that we would again enter in the breakaway," Bouet said. "Only Nikolas Maes would wait in preparation of a potential sprint, and of course Gianluca Brambilla would conserve his energy, as he was 13th in the overall classification. Between 10 and 15 kilometers into the stage I encouraged the formation of the breakaway, which was five riders. We went away, but we never had more than five minutes of an advantage, as Astana was pulling at the front of the peloton. They didn't give us much room. In the final, the teams who wanted a sprint moved to the front. But we worked well together in the breakaway. In the last 30 kilometers we really went full gas. When they told us at about 18 kilometers to go that we still had two minutes, I started to believe in it, and how I would play the final. I was for sure one of the fastest guys in the group, but I was a little afraid of Bart-Jan Lindeman, who is in great shape. When Alexis Gougeard attacked I followed him, I knew he was a dangerous guy in a final like that. Then, in the last kilomer, when Venter attacked I let him go a little bit and used him as a point of reference. I caught him and tried to go to the finish in front. I tried to not look back, I had a feeling the peloton was catching us, but I gave everything. In the final few hundred meters or so they caught me. Unfortunately I was a few hundred meters short today. I was a little disappointed because we are putting a lot of effort into this Vuelta to always be a protagonist. We probably deserve a nice result after almost two weeks of fighting. Personally I think I am finding the level I was supposed to have. After Paris-Nice the season was always up-and-down, with small problems. But in the last weeks I felt better. I built a good base before coming here. I'm 23rd in the classification, and I am still entering breakaways, so this means my level is good at this moment. I am the kind of guy who likes to try and attack. However, today it hurts a little bit when it doesn't work out. Let's see what the next stages can bring. The fight is not over. I feel good, so why not? We will try again. We always have a plan every day to try and go into the breakaway and go for good results, while also protecting the placement of Brambilla. We have a good atmosphere in the team, from the riders to the staff. I really hope that we can go for a victory as a team. This is the third time we got the red number. I think from tomorrow on, one of the guys can make it."more information
Etixx - Quick-Step reached an agreement with rider Bob Jungels on a two-year contract (2016 & 2017).
Jungels had a strong 2015 season, as he is the current Luxembourg National Time Trial and Road Champion, he was 6th overall at Tour de Suisse, 27th overall at Le Tour de France, and he also finished twice in the top five of Le Tour de France stages. He also won the overall of Etoile de Bessèges at the beginning of the year.
"I am happy to ride for this team starting next season," Jungels said. "I had a good talk with Patrick Lefevere after Le Tour de France, and we came to an agreement. It's a great team, and in the bunch you can really see them riding as a unit. The image of this team is really good in the peloton. The plan Patrick proposed for me was one I agreed with. I will focus on the shorter stage races and on the Ardennes Classics in my first year with the team. We will then approach the grand tours step-by-step to see what I can do for those in the future. For me, it's nice to be a part of a group where there are a lot of young riders, like Carlos Verona, who I know very well. I also know Julian Alaphilippe, who is the same age as I am. It will be a good mix of young riders and experienced guys on Etixx - Quick-Step next season. I have to say also that I like the style of this team. They are always aggressive in races, which fits my style of riding."
"We are satisfied with this agreement," Lefevere, CEO of Etixx - Quick-Step, said. "Bob is one of the riders who stands out as one of the talents in cycling right now. He is also the first rider in the history of our team from Luxembourg, which is a nation that is growing up in the cycling world. Bob knows what he wants and we think we can achieve good results together, and move him to the next step of his career. He impressed us in the past, but especially this year with his attacks in Le Tour de France, and his 6th place in the Tour de Suisse. His racing this year really stood out for us. We thought this guy could be an important piece of our team in the future. We're really looking forward to collaborating together, and having a great 2016 season."
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Gianluca Brambilla followed the actions of the main peloton, without much problem, through five of six total climbs in the taxing 138km La Vuelta a España 11th Stage, from Andorra la Vella to Cortals d´Encamp, on Wednesday. However, the italian rider lost contact on the final Category 1 climb to the finish of the Queen Stage, as Fabio Aru (Astana) attacked from the reduced peloton. The pace was simply too high as the group, consisting of most GC contenders in the race, split in pursuit of Aru with 7.6km to go.
Mikel Landa (Astana) won the race solo out of the original breakaway group of 16 riders, that eventually became 19 riders along the parcours. The lead group reduced in number with each passing climb, and while it seemed the peloton kept the gap well within control, the profile was difficult enough to give the leaders a chance to decide the stage. Landa went solo from a six-rider breakaway inside 10km to go.
Aru, meanwhile, finished 2nd, 1'22" down from Landa. Initially he was followed by Joaquim Rodriguez and Daniel Moreno of Katusha, but they were unable to stay with his tempo. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) relinquished the race lead to Aru, finishing in a chase group behind. Ian Boswell (Team Sky) finished 3rd as a member of the original breakaway, 1'40" down from Landa.
Brambilla kept his tempo on the last climb and finished 20th in the stage, 5 minutes and 25 seconds behind stage winner Landa. Riders crossed with significant time gaps between each, after completing one of the most difficult stages in the history of La Vuelta. The stage featueed almost 5000m of climbing along the parcours. Brambilla is now 13th overall, 6'42" down from Aru in the overall classification.
Carlos Verona, who started the stage for Etixx - Quick-Step wearing red bib numbers as the "Most Combative/Aggressive" rider from Stage 10 before the first rest day, was part of the original breakaway.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to 173km Stage 12 on Thursday. The stage features some up-and-down sections in the early kilometers, as well as a Category 2 ascent. However, the stage descends into the last kilometers. There is also a short descent in the final kilometer that leads into an uphill finish.more information