Etixx - Quick-Step was again one of the most active teams in the peloton in the 146.6km 10th Stage of La Vuelta a España on Monday, with several riders of the team joining the large breakaway of almost 40 riders, and attacks by Carlos Verona, as well as Niki Terpstra, in the original escape group that constantly splintered.
The peloton reeled in riders from the group kilometer-by-kilometer. Verona, who won the Combativity/Most Aggressive Rider Award, went away with Riccardo Zoidl (Trek Factory Racing) at the 44km mark, but the duo was brought back by the large group of chasers at the 67km mark.
Terpstra was the next to try his chance, and this time a much smaller group was left behind chasing. At 42km to go Terpstra had 15" on teammate Iljo Keisse and four chasers, as well as 41" on the peloton. However, the race came completely back together with 34km left to race.
More attacks came from the peloton at 25km to go, with Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing Team) launching, and Romain Sicard (Europcar) joining him. Soon Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) bridged and tried to go solo. Etixx - Quick-Step was far from finished with their role as protagonist. Gianluca Brambilla tried to chase solo with 18km remaining. Elissonde was rejoined by Sicard and De Marchi, while Brambilla remained behind in pursuit. Brambilla was brought back with about 6km to go. Sicard, De Marchi, and Elissonde were caught with 4.4km to go.
The peloton was reduced heading into the bunch sprint after the high tempo of the stage, and a large numbers of riders having already used a lot of energy in the original breakaway. Etixx - Quick-Step rider Pieter Serry finished 9th behind stage winner Kristian Sbaragli (MTN - Qhubeka), 2nd place finisher John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), and 3rd place finisher JJ Rojas (Movistar).
"This morning it was really a fight to enter the breakaway," Verona said. "We tried a lot but it was impossible for a while. We finally got a breakaway going on the climb of 3rd Category, and it was a big breakaway of 38 riders. But there was no collaboration in the group, so it was really difficult. As a team we tried several times to go away and maybe get a small group in front to try and go to the finish. I went away and took an advantage with Zoidl, but we were brought back. There was also a headwind, so that made the effort even harder. But we tried our best, even because there was nothing to lose today. Tomorrow is the rest day, and it is an important day to recover. The day after is the queen stage, with 5000 meters of climbing, and six mountain passes, in 140 kilometers. It is a completely up-and-down Andorran parcours. But I trained on these roads a lot in training and know them well. I have to say it will be really challenging, but we will of course try to get into the breakaway with our usual aggressive style, and see what we can do as a team."