1-2 for Etixx – Quick-Step in Giro d’Italia GC
Gianluca Brambilla retained the maglia rosa following Sunday's time trial, while Bob Jungels climbed to second in the overall classification.
Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia was viewed by many as the first real test for the GC contenders, the 40.5-km long individual time trial being expected to shake up the rankings and give a clue on who can fight for a good result in the next two weeks. Taking the riders from Radda in Chianti to Greve in Chianti, the course was an undulating one, with short and difficult climbs and some technical sections, and as if all these weren't enough, rain began halfway through the stage, and the wet roads meant that the late starters had to pay attention when negotiating the tricky corners.
Last rider to roll down the ramp, Gianluca Brambilla had a good start and pushed a steady pace despite the miserable conditions, being clocked in 16 minutes at the first intermediate. In the middle section of the time trial, he conceded time, but made up for this in the final kilometers, just as the road was rising again, and by the third check he took back most of the time he lost up until that point. Step by step, Gianluca scratched off the deficit on the other GC riders and concluded this challenging test in 53:50, around two minutes behind the winner, Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), which was enough for 17th place and for keeping the pink jersey.
One of the pre-race favourites, Bob Jungels was another Etixx – Quick-Step rider to stand out on Sunday, after coming home in 6th position, a result which led to a significant leap in the general classification, from 14th to 2nd, just one second behind his teammate. Having done that, Bob also increased his lead in the white jersey standings and will go into the second week of the race with a comfortable cushion over the second placed rider, none other than his teammate, Carlos Verona, also a debutant in the Giro d'Italia.
"It was a demanding, technical and difficult ITT, and all that I can say now is that I'm very happy. I came at the start very relaxed and confident, as I was thinking of giving my all, while also staying safe. I am happy for having the opportunity of spending at least one more day in the maglia rosa, but I'm also sad for Bob, because I know how he's feeling. Probably, in normal conditions, he would have won the stage. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the jersey remained within the team", said Gianluca Brambilla, who'll now have the chance to wear the maglia rosa in a road stage, on Tuesday. "I can't wait for that! Today was a time trial, and I couldn't fully enjoy it with my great teammates, but things will be completely different on stage 10."
At the Giro d'Italia, Gianluca is leading a stage race for the first time in his career, and he credited for his success the team behind the team, from the sponsors who always provide the best equipment to Etixx – Quick-Step's staff:
All these couldn't have been possible without all the people who stand by our side.
"Take, for example, today: it was a tough stage, and many riders crashed or punctured, but we didn't have this kind of problems, as Specialized delivered us great bikes and excellent tires, perfect for this kind of conditions, which made our life easier. Also, it was very important to have Davide Bramati in the car, as he knew every single detail of the parcours. That's why I want to thank to the entire team for their help and input."
Etixx – Quick-Step concluded the first nine stages of the Corsa Rosa with three wins in the bag, two jerseys and at the top of the team standings, and Bob Jungels is one of the riders who played a big role in the success of the opening week: "After Tirreno-Adriatico, I came here with Davide Bramati and Koen Pelgrim, our trainer, and did a recon of the time trial course. Of course, it was different today, because of the weather conditions, but making an idea on the key points of the stage earlier this year really helped me a lot. I'm very happy considering how today was. I managed to extend my lead in the best young rider standings and to return to the top three of the general classification. It's great to be up there with Gianluca, the team spirit is incredible and we hope to continue like this."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele