Great races happen on the sterrato, I’ve decided, and today was no exception. As the gravelled climb of the Alpe di Poti took its toll, Etixx-QuickStep’s Gianluca Brambilla went off on a solo ride so strong, not only did he win the stage but he took enough time to become the third man to wear the maglia rosa. Ag2r’s Matteo Montaguti and Cannondale’s Moreno Moser completed the all-Italian podium.
Rider of the Race
Gianluca Brambilla has been our Rider of the Race once before this year. I picked him for his phenomenal work in Strade Bianche in early March and his race today was reminiscent of that performance – except today, he won! As part of the 13-man break that went away early, the diminutive Italian patiently bided his time until they hit the bottom of the Alpe di Poti. Chasing after Montaguti and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) who made the first attacks, Brambilla went right past them and never looked back. With Tom Dumoulin having a very very bad day, it soon became apparent that not only would Brambilla win the stage without much trouble, but he’d be handed the maglia rosa as well. Not bad for his first grand tour victory!
Leaders in the pack
The GC contenders decided to put on a show today, starting with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who attacked at the start of the final climb, with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) following him, hoping to put big time into Tom Dumoulin, who had the mother of all jour sans.
Eventually, the trio were joined by, among others, Rafa Majka (Tinkoff), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Rigoberto Uran (The Rolling Stones) and Mikel Landa (Sky). Valverde’s teammate (and our favourite Movistarlet) Andrey Amador joined up to work hard for his team captain. With a long time trial stage on Sunday, this group must have been hoping to bank precious seconds against Dumoulin who even after today is still expected to win. Yet for all that work, Valverde (the best placed GC rider in 4th) is only 26sec ahead of Dumoulin. We could see the maglia rosa coming straight back to the Butterfly of Maastricht.
1. Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) 4:14:05
2. Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r La Mondiale) +1:06
3. Moreno Moser (Cannondale) +1:27
4. Jaco Venter (Dimension Data) +1:28
5. Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) +1:33
1. Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) 33:39:14
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) +0:23
3. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0.33
4. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0.36
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +0.45
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep)
Point’s jersey: Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
KOM jersey: Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)
Best young rider: Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quick Step)
For full review of the stage, go to CyclingNews
Header image: ©Getty Images/Tim de Waele