De La Cruz and Mas climb superbly on Picon Blanco
With two days to go in Vuelta a Burgos, the two Quick-Step Floors riders sit in second, respectively third overall.
Quick-Step Floors' Spanish duo David De La Cruz and Enric Mas put on a solid and impressive display on the queen-stage of Vuelta a Burgos, which took the riders to Picon Blanco, a climb never used before in the race and which is rumoured to debut in the Vuelta a España in the near feature. One of the toughest ascents tackled by the pro peloton this season, Picon Blanco averaged 9.1% over 8.5 kilometers and marked the end of the day's breakaway, which featured also Pieter Serry.
Stage 2 winner Matteo Trentin led the way on the first slopes of the ascent, the last of the day's six classified climbs, before Team Sky took over and imposed a hard tempo which thinned out the peloton, leaving only a handful of riders at the front four kilometers from the finish.
Neo-pro Enric Mas tested the waters on the double-digit gradients, sparking a response from the chasers, who had to dig deep to bring him back once the 22-year-old went 18 seconds clear. Despite being reeled in, Enric went again and this time it was overall leader Mikel Landa (Team Sky) the one who countered, a move which only David De La Cruz could follow.
The two forged up the climb and quickly put some daylight between them and a three-man chasing group, entering in the final kilometer with a comfortable lead. At that point it became clear they'll be the ones fighting for victory, and David tried to catch his opponent off guard, kicking out at 500 meters to go, but the purple jersey responded and went past his countryman to take the win and extend his advantage in the general classification.
De La Cruz, a stage winner this season at Paris-Nice and Vuelta al Pais Vasco, rolled over the line just a few seconds later, while Enric Mas – who this time last year was still in the amateur ranks – proved again his climbing prowess, as he rounded out the podium and increased his lead at the top of the youth standings.
"I would have loved to win today, but another rider was better than me. I did my best and gave everything out there, so at the end of the day I'm content with how things went and how I felt. I'm not in top condition yet, there's still some work to be done, but today the signs were good and confirmed that I'm on the right track. I lost today, but this result is already in the past, I'm already thinking of the next summit finish, scheduled on Saturday", David De Cruz said after the toughest stage of Vuelta a Burgos.
Photo credit: ©Javi Linares