Challenge Mallorca: Strong ride nets Brambilla 4th on hard day
Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana confirmed the good form the 28-year-old Italian has in the beginning of this season.
A huge breakaway was in the spotlight on the third day of the Challenge Mallorca, the toughest of them all, which saw the peloton tackle seven climbs on the 143.9-km long course to Deia. Having 2:30 on the pack inside the final 50 kilometers of the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, the 23 escapees – including our-neo pro Laurens De Plus – began thinking they could pull this off, especially as the pace of the chasers wasn't a ferocious one. The status quo in the front group was all but gone on the 8.6-km long Coll de sa Batalla, where riders began to attack, hoping their move will prove to be the decisive one.
None of these attacks had amplitude, so a logical regrouping took place with 20 kilometers to go. Then, when there were just 10 kilometers left to the finish, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory-Segafredo) punched clear from his companions and opened a gap of 55 seconds. In the meantime, Sky and Movistar made their way to the head of the peloton and started chewing into the Swiss rider's advantage, but the forcing came too late, and Cancellara prevailed at the finish, getting a solo victory ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), who arrived in the top 3.
One day later after scoring his first win in the Etixx – Quick-Step jersey, Gianluca Brambilla had another impressive ride and came home 4th, ahead of former Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana winner Alejandro Valverde. Victorious in the Trofeo Pollença-Port de Andratx on Friday, Brambilla wasn't the sole rider of the team in the top 10, with Maxime Bouet getting 7th from the group that finished 17 seconds adrift.
"Today's race was another hard one, but this didn't came as a surprise, considering the parcours. Maxime and I stayed all the time in the first part of the peloton, ready to react if someone would have attacked. We had hoped for the fireworks to start earlier, in order to create a proper selection, but as this wasn't the case, we decided to play our cards in the finale. Eventually, we both came in the top 10, and I think we can be happy with these results, which bring us even more confidence for the next races of the season", Gianluca Brambilla explained in Deia.
The last race of the Challenge Mallorca – Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma (161.5 km) – has a flat route, which should see the sprinters battle for victory, just as they did also on the first day.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele