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Brambilla Takes Sensational Stage Win; Dumoulin Slips Back

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On the strade bianche of Tuscany, Brambilla attacked the break to take the pink jersey from the shoulders of Tom Dumoulin, who fell back on the stage/

Luk Benies, AFP/Getty

A break, containing no one of consequence bar Gianluca Brambilla, who as well as starting the day only 1'56" behind leader Tom Dumoulin, also got a podium finish on the sterrato, in Strade Bianche, got away before any of the categorised climbs of the stage, and gained an advantage of around five minutes before going onto the Alpe di Poti. There, Brambilla almost immediately dropped all of his break companions, and ploughed on towards the climb's summit by himself.

But as soon as the peloton reached the sterrato roads, Alejandro Valverde made his mark on the race, attacking from the peloton, and dropping race leader Tom Dumoulin. The Spaniard propelled a seven-man group of elite GC favourites away from the maglia rosa and also Sky leader Mikel Landa, but a further swelling of the group allowed Landa back in, along with Sergey Firsanov.

Dumoulin continued to slip back, as Valverde and Nibali kept surging forward. They pulled back a small amount of time on Brambilla (remember him?) who crested the climb with 2'38" on the group of favourites. Dumoulin also suffered, falling further and further back, and cresting the climb more than a minute behind the group, who sprinted over the GPM point in hope of gaining a good position for the steep descent.

Neither Nibali, nor Valverde took advantage of the descent to gain any time, as Valverde's Movistar team mates led the group into Arezzo, but they were nowhere near quick enough to catch Brambilla, who crossed the finishing line, celebrated...and watched. Because the stage win wasn't the only thing at stake, the maglia rosa was too. Sure enough, the GC riders came in...too late, and pink was Brambilla's. Dumoulin, demoralised and defeated, crossed the line two minutes and fifty seconds down, and lost his pink jersey.

That wasn't the only change in the general classification. After puncturing on the final climb, Jakob Fuglsang fell out of the top ten, perhaps ending the Astana civil war before it even started, and proving once and for all that you don't mess with a Sicilian anywhere near some gravel. Otherwise, only Dumoulin was a real casualty of the day, as all other pre-race favourites made the selection. Ilnur Zakarin, in second place is the best placed favourite at twenty-three seconds back, but he is only forty seconds ahead of tenth-placed Mikel Landa.

"It's hard to believe what's happened," said the new race leader. "I tried to make the break, I knew it would be hard to get into it, as I thought the stage was really good for me. I'm happy to have the pink jersey."

Stage Results:
1. ITA Gianluca Brambilla EQS 4:14:05
2. ITA Matteo Montaguti ALM 1:06
3. ITA Moreno Moser CAN 1:27
4. RSA Jaco Venter DDD 1:28
5. ITA Alessandro di Marchi BMC 1:33
6. ESP Alejandro Valverde MOV 1:41
7. NED Steven Kruijswijk LTJ "
8. ESP Mikel Landa SKY "
9. COL Johan Esteban Chaves OGE "
10. RUS Ilnur Zakarin KAT "
General Classification:
1. ITA Gianluca Brambilla EQS 33:39:14
2. RUS Ilnur Zakarin KAT 00:00:23
3. NED Steven Kruikswijk TLJ 00:00:33
4. ESP Alejandro Valverde MOV 00:00:36
5. ITA Vincenzo Nibali AST 00:00:45
6. COL Johan Esteban Chaves OGE 00:00:48
7. COL Rigoberto Úran CAN 00:00:49
8. POL Rafal Majka TNK 00:00:54
9. ITA Domenico Pozzovivo ALM "
10. ESP Mikel Landa SKY 00:01:03