Santiago Buitrago put in a timely solo attack in the final 600m up to Alto del Castillo and broke clear from the competition crossing the line 3″ ahead of runner-up Ruben Guerreiro (UAE Team Emirates), and will wear the Vuelta a Burgos leader jersey tomorrow.
It’s the third stage win for Buitrago this season after winning Stage 2 at the Saudi Tour in similar fashion, and his first Grand Tour win at the Giro d’Italia.
After finishing fourth last year, Buitrago was set on victory this time round: “I’m really happy to win today. Last year I tried on this stage, but I have more experience and timed my attack well. I felt good and had great support from the team, and Yuki helped bring me to the front in a great position to attack. Now we go day by day and focus on the GC. We have a strong team here with Mikel and Gino, and we will look to keep the leader jersey.”
And while our boys were leading from the front in Spain, the same was true in Poland. On the 4th day of the 79th Tour de Pologne, Jonathan Milan secured the team’s 4th podium, meaning we have had a rider in the top 3 on every stage of the race so far.
With 3k to go, Milan had hit the front of the bunch with Pello Bilbao and Stevie Williams, chasing Quickstep’s Zdenek Stybar, but as usual he was working with the team’s overall success in mind, not his own.
Nonetheless, with a few hundred metres left, and with his main job done, the Italian – just as he had on stage 1 – found himself with a chance of victory. Pushed into the barriers on the left side, then boxed in on the right, the 21 year old had to take a wide path to chase eventual stage winner Pascal Ackermann (UAE), and finished in 3rd place, behind the German and Jordan Meeus (BOH).
It’s been an astonishing return to racing after over 4 months out, and the top step is surely beckoning, both for ‘Jonny’, and the team.
“My feelings are so nice right now, and the team did such a fantastic job again,” he said after his 2nd podium of the race. “Stevie in the last kilometre, but everyone, really. We had a great place in the group the whole time right until the end, when maybe I missed the positioning slightly. It was no surprise to see Ackermann at the front on the last corner; he was the strongest. I went full gas and I gave my best … it’s just experience and I will get better in these situations. I will grow up with this 3rd place; next time when I’m in a situation like that maybe I’ll know better how to move and where to go, but I’m pretty happy“
Stage 5 has a classics-style profile; 178 hilly kms from Lancut, ending with a flat finish in Rzeszow and a chance for the fast men before Thursday’s vital uphill Time Trial. Pello Bilbao lies second overall with 3 days left.
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