La Vuelta a España Stage 18: Serry, Brambilla Arrive Together in GC Group
Etixx - Quick-Step riders Pieter Serry and Gianluca Brambilla finished 7th and 9th, in the animated finale of 204km La Vuelta a España Stage 18 on Thursday, out of a select GC group. However, they arrived in that group for two different reasons.
Serry continued the Etixx - Quick-Step trend of entering breakaways whenever possible, joining 24 other riders in the original group. Two riders of that original group — Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) — eventually decided the stage after Zubeldia bridged to Roche in the late kilometers. Roche won ahead of Zubeldia, with Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA) 3rd. Goncalves tried unsuccessfully to bridge to the two, also from the original breakaway.
The former breakaway riders, including Serry, were caught by the GC group inside 3.8km to go. The GC group became highly active on Category 1 Puerto de la Quesara, with a summit at the 191km mark. However, there were no changes at the top of the overall classification by the time the group crossed the finish. Brambilla, who lost contact with the group after some accelerations of the top GC contenders, was able to rejoin the group as they descended into the finish line, crossing 38" down from stage winner Roche.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to 185.8km Stage 19, from Medina del Campo to Ávila, on Friday. There are two categorized climbs in the stage, with an uncategorized uphill finish.