One day after winning on Aramon Formigal, Etixx – Quick-Step was again in action at the Spanish Grand Tour.
After Sunday's thrilling and arduous stage, the peloton enjoyed a much calmer stage on Monday, when the riders traveled to the Valencian Community, over a distance of 156.4 kilometers. The parcours included a third-category climb and a long descent leading to Peñiscola, which was acting as finishing town in the Vuelta a España for the second time in history, following the 1981 edition.
Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), Mario Costa (Lampre-Merida), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Julien Morice (Direct Energie) and Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) went into the breakaway and worked together to establish a 3-minute gap which allowed them to stay at the front until the 20km to go banner, when their adventure came to an end under the impetus of Etixx – Quick-Step and IAM Cycling.
A late attack of Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) made the finale difficult to control, and even though the Italian was reeled in with less than 300 meters to go by Etixx – Quick-Step, who led a strong chase behind him, the bunch gallop turned out to be a chaotic one. For that reason, Gianni Meersman – who was vying for his third win in the race – had to be content with 4th at the finish, behind Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC), Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin). Another rider of the team, David De La Cruz, arrived safely with the bunch and hold onto his top 10 place in the general classification.
Tomorrow, the riders will have an off-day, before the race resumes on Wednesday with another mountain stage, between Castellon and the first-category ascent Camins del Penygolosa (177.5 kilometers).
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele