Il Lombardia: Brambilla Top 10, Verona Top 20 in Final Monument of 2015!
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Gianluca Brambilla didn't give up when he was distanced by the select group that decided the fifth and final monument of the 2015 road season: 245km Il Lombardia. The Italian rider represented well in the Italian race, bridging back to the group in the final kilometers and taking a 10th place finish on Sunday.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won solo, attacking with less than 18km to go on Civiglio, and then growing his advantage with aggressive descending on technical roads. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) finished 2nd, and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) 3rd. The two riders tried to chase down Nibali on the San Fermo Della Battaglia, but the gap was too significant to close.
Brambilla lost contact with the select group as attacks flew on the Civiglio, but he bridged back on the descent. He then lost contact again on the final climb, but did his best for a top finish after a hard race on a challenging parcours.
Carlos Verona also finished 16th. The Spanish rider of Etixx - Quick-Step was part of an attack group along with four of his teammates: Michal Kwiatkowski, Zdenek Stybar, Lukasz Wisniowski, and Matteo Trentin, on the descent of Onno prior to Madonna del Ghisallo. They were chasing down the original 11-rider breakaway. Both groups completely splintered on the Madonna del Ghisallo, as the chasers caught the leaders except for two riders. Kwiatkowski stayed with the chasers, and eventually caught up to the leaders on the super steep Muro di Sormano. Kwiatkowski then became the temporary solo leader of the race, but he was joined by Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) on the descent.
Kwiatkowski and Wellens kept pushing ahead, with Kwiatkowski going solo as the gap to what was left of the peloton was down to mere seconds, Kwiatkowski was eventually caught by the small peloton, including Nibali, with 19.8km remaining.
Verona was able to keep his tempo in the midst of all the attacks, climbs, and descents, and finished among the top 20 of the race.
"I am super excited about my finish," Brambilla said. "This race is a favorite of mine out of the one-day races, along with Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I am thrilled to finish in the top 10 of one of the monuments. In the race I lost momentum when we attacked on the downhill of Onno. I stayed on the wheels of the Valverde group, staying relaxed on the Ghisallo. Then, on the Muro di Sormano, I kept my own pace, which meant I lost contact. But I always had the small peloton in front of me as a point of reference. it was a big motivation to see them always within reach. On the downhill I came back to the group, but I lost contact on the Civiglio. The descent was quite technical, but I did my best and bridged once again to the group. When the top guys tried to close the gap to Nibali on the last climb, I tried, but couldn't follow. Considering how hard this race was, I am very happy with 10th place. Since La Vuelta I've performed really well. I also did well in Gran Piemonte on Friday. I'm thrilled with this end of the season. Next I will go to Abu Dhabi Tour. There is only one stage that suits my skills, with an uphill finish. I will see what I can do. After I crashed before the Giro, which meant I could not race the Italian Grand Tour, it meant I could be fresh for the second half of the year. I made the most of great condition and I am satisfied. I will try to finish my year with a good performance, and then try to build on this for next year."
"We attacked on the downhill of Onno, and this set up Kwiatkowski to set his tempo on the Ghisallo," Verona said. "On the Muro di Sormano climb I lost contact, but didn't give up. I was always there. In the end I was 16th, so to me it's a great result as a young guy still learning. I am happy with how I rode and how the team performed today. It was really nice to make the final of this race. I really want to come back next year to try to do well, and get another good result."