Vuelta: Quintana extends lead after early attack, Brambilla wins stage
Sep 04 2016 11:44 pm CET

Vuelta: Quintana extends lead after early attack, Brambilla wins stage
Vuelta: Quintana extends lead after early attack, Brambilla wins stage

Nairo Quintana has extended his lead in the Vuelta a España after a successful early attack in stage 15. Gianluca Brambilla took the stage victory.

The stage did not need much time to warm up as Alberto Contador launched an attack shortly after kilometer 0. The Spaniard was followed by Nairo Quintana and a number of other riders while Sky and Orica-BikeExchange remained shell shocked.

A front group of 14 eventually formed with Contador and Quintana assisted by two helpers each.

Being forced to chase the lead group, many of those in the peloton had difficulties keeping up and Froome was soon left without most of his teammates. The Tour de France winner depended mostly on other teams, such as Orica-BikeExchange and Astana, to control the race.

The lead group continued to set a high pace and even reached an advantage of over three minutes. The difference momentarily decreased on the 2nd-category Alto de Cotefablo as Orica-BikeExchange led the chase in defense of their third and fourth places in the General Classification.

The gap remained stable between 2'30" and 3'00" throughout most of the stage however as the chase group lacked the coordination and strength to close the gap while those in front were well organized with the Movistar and Tinkoff helpers setting a high pace.

The final climb of the day, a first-category ascent to Formigal, only further emphasized the difference in shape between Quintana and Froome. While the Colombian led the front group throughout most of the climb, the Briton had difficulties holding on to his group and was eventually forced to let go.

Quintana's pace proved too much for most riders in the lead group. Contador was the last rider to be dropped, leaving just the Movistar leader and Brambilla in front. At the finish, the Etixx-Quick Step man had a little more strength left to accelerate and take the victory ahead of Quintana.

Fabio Felline of Trek-Segafredo took the third place some seconds later, and Alberto Contador crossed the finish line at 32 seconds from the stage winner.

Froome finished at 2'39", several seconds behind Green-Jersey holder Alejandro Valverde.

As such, Quintana extends his lead in the General Classification with Froome now trailing by three minutes and 37 seconds.

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