An aggressive ride on the queen-stage helped the Italian finish seventh overall, a week after notching a top 10 in Clasica San Sebastian.
Gianluca Brambilla lit up stage 5 of Vuelta a Burgos, with an attack that spread panic in the peloton, launched with around 30 kilometers left. A dangerous man in the general classification, the Etixx – Quick-Step rider went all in on the first-category Pasil de Rozavientos, where he was joined by Michele Scarponi (Astana) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar); the trio caught Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), the sole leader of the race, and in this formula continued to power away, increasing their lead to one minute by the bottom of the second-to-last ascent, Alto del Collado.
Behind, the peloton got organized, with the likes of Orica-BikeExchange and Tinkoff taking command and setting a pace which cut the gap of the quartet to 35 seconds. Eventually, the chasers bridged across on Lagunas de Neila, the mythical climb of the Vuelta a Burgos, where everything was to be decided in terms of stage win and overall standings at the 38th edition. Inside the final 10 kilometers, the group was caught, but this didn't stop Gianluca from laying down an important workload at the head of what was now a reduced peloton, before going again to the attack and forcing an important selection.
Despite being reeled in again, the 27-year-old remained at the pointy end of the group, tracking a move of Sergio Pardilla, who surged clear with four kilometers remaining of the HC ascent. The Spaniard opened a 50-second lead, which was kept under control only by the Italian, who reduced the advantage of the Caja Rural rider to 35 seconds in the last two kilometers. The huge and admirable effort he put in took its toll on Brambilla, who had no response when Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Ben Hermans (BMC) attacked. The two couldn't make the junction to Pardilla, who won the stage with a comfortable gap, while Contador took the overall spoils, one second ahead of Hermans.
After the most testing day of Vuelta a Burgos, one which featured seven classified climbs, Gianluca Brambilla arrived exhausted but satisfied at the finish atop Lagunas de Neila, as his solid display in the five-stage race comes as a good omen with two weeks to go to the start of the Vuelta a España. Gianluca completed Burgos in seventh place, just 36 seconds down on the winner, for his 13th top-10 of the season, one in which he also got two victories, in the Challenge Mallorca and Giro d'Italia.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele