- British secures Vuelta triump in Madrid
- Yates’s Vuelta a España win offers glimpse of world without Sky
And there we have it: Simon Yates strolls up to the podium, collects his jersey, and walks away a champion. That’s all, then. All that’s left now is to log on to Instagram and await the photos of gnarled limbs. Ta-ra!
In fact, Enric Mas gets some time up there on his own, to collect the best young rider prize (no jersey for that one though). He has been sensational this Vuelta. Then Movistar swarm the stage as the best team award is dished out.
A beaming Elia Viviani clambers atop the podium to collect his medal. Yates, Mad and Moreno await their turn
Patrick Lefevere, Quick-Step general manager:
“We might have missed some victories this year but Enric Mas and Viviani made up for that. I’m really excited by how we ride at the moment. We’ve got 28 riders but it’s not the number of the riders that counts – it’s the quality of the victories. We’ve put a lot of money into young riders over the years.”
Mitchelton-Scott sporting director Matthew White:
“It’s not excitement, it’s relief. We got through these three weeks with a different tactic – you’ve got to manage your athletes, your workload. I don’t want to give too much away [about what’s next] but I think there’s some unfinished business at the Giro for Simon. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s out net objective.”
The final top 10 at this year’s Vuelta:
And a report from Spain, where Yates has said he has “unfinished business” at the Giro:
So that’s that: Simon Yates’s Vuelta victory is official. Here’s William Fotheringham on how he did it, and what his triumph means:
Quick-Step Floors secure their 67th win of the season. Now, we await the coronation of Simon Yates.
And here’s that finish:
‘And suddenly Viviani appears from nowhere!’
Today’s top five:
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo)
4. Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo)
5. Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ)
A great finish as Viviani arrives from nowhere, eating up the ground behind Van Poppel, who was tantalisingly close to crossing the line first, and steaming around the outside to grab himself a satisfying win.
1km to go
Quick-Step are out in front, Viviani crowded out and frustrated. Van Poppel grits his teeth and kicks, creeping up on the front…
4km to go
Team Sky steam ahead, quickly matched by Mitchelton-Scott. Another hairpin.
5 km to go
6.2km to go and Vincenzo Nibali goes for a cheeky individual push, soon caught up by Danny van Popple. No holding back now, everyone jostling for prime positions.
10km to go
The trio’s lead is slimming – 10 seconds now – as they screech around a hairpin turn, coming almost to a dead stop in the process. Heads bowed, they hit the accelerator.
17km to go
Rosskopf, Rubio and Bravo are hanging in there out front – a string of riders edges ahead of the peloton to try and meet them, but drops back again. The sprint nears, Elia Viviani the favourite to deliver.
26km to go
Stalnov takes leave of the break for a mechanical. The other three roar past a spectacular – though sparsely attended – bull ring, matador prancing around in its centre. The gap is 13 seconds but the peloton is intent on keeping them on a leash
30km to go.
It’s starting to feel like a race now, the speed creeping up to 58km/h. Still ahead of the pack, Bravo kicks hard, bathed in sweat.
35km to go
Four riders – Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi-Murias), Diego Rubio (Burgos) Joseph Rosskopf (BMC) and Nikita Stalnov (Astana) – now lead the way, 15 seconds the difference. But Pello Bilbao (Astana) is in trouble – he needs a bike change.
Here’s Igor Anton soaking up his last day on the job:
Su último día como profesional… | Last day as pro…
❤ GRACIAS @IgorAntonH
42km to go
The six are reabsorbed by a pitiless peloton. Another pair, from BMC and Burgos-BH, do their best to open up some daylight, but struggle.
48km to go
The six-man breakaway have opened up a gap of nine seconds, but can’t eat up any more ground. Eight laps to go. Iturria peers over his shoulder anxiously.
52km to go
Loïc Chetout (Cofidis) comes to meet Macado out ahead of a fast-spreading peloton. Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing Team), Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Mikel Iturria (Euskadi-Murias) are also in the vicinity, game faces affixed.
60km to go
The riders hit the intermediate sprint in Madrid, which begins uncontested – Anton given a lap to milk the applause – before, at last, the riders start to stretch their legs. We even have a small breakaway, led by Tiago Machado (Katusha Alpecin)
65km to go
The retiring Igor Antón zooms ahead of the peloton to savour a few final moments with the crowd. He grins bashfully, clearly moved by the fans’ affectionate applause – a lovely moment.
70 km to go
An elongated peloton yawns its way around the outskirts of the Spanish capital. It’s fair to say today’s fare has been unhurried thus far: average speed clocks in at 32.5km/h.
Here’s man of the moment Simon Yates speaking before today’s stage:
77km to go
Yesterday’s hardships don’t seem to have gotten to Alejandro Velverde. The beaming Spaniard scoots across to offer a handshake to one of the TV camera crew driving alongside the peloton. Rider-broadcaster relations did become a tad fraught yesterday when the Yates brothers delivered some choice words, and gestures, to a TV car that had drifted too close to the front of the peloton, possibly giving Astana a fraction of a tow.
83km to go
It’s all smiles as the Mitchelton-Scott team lines up to adopt an uneasy embrace for the cameras. They disperse so Lopez and Mas can join Yates for an on-road podium shot. Eyes on the road, chaps.
88km to go
Miguel Angel Lopez is wearing the white jersey … but don’t let that confuse you: it belongs to Yates, who along with his fellow riders is just taking in the not-unremarkable sight of the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which stands alongside a lovely 14th-century monastery atop the Cerro de los Ángeles.
Cerro de los Ángeles, Getafe #LaVuelta18
92km to go
The riders weave their way past the stadium and training ground of CD Leganés (currently rock bottom of La Liga after losing at home to Villarreal earlier today), on Madrid’s outskirts.
Salida etapa 21 desde Alcorcón.
… not that there was much fanfare about the start. There are fans though – plenty of them, and they line the streets to cheer the riders out of Alcorcón, the day’s leisurely feel summed up by the cheery tete-a-tete that continues between the Colombians at its front.
Quintana and Lopez shoot the breeze over the shoulders of a grining Valverde at the head of a 158-strong peloton cruising through Alcorcón – which, to indulge my inner Ally McCoist, is a medieval town whose historic centre is a protected “archaeological zone”
The riders are currently coasting down the neutralised section, towards the start line. In the meantime, the standings in the GC after yesterday’s stage:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
2. Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) +1’46’’
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +2’04’’
4. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2’54’’
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +4’28’’
Yates yesterday: “I think it’s sinking in. I’m incredibly proud, and incredibly proud of the team also – they carried me through the entire three weeks. It’s the first Grand Tour win for the team. It’s unbelievable.
On why he attacked when he did: “I knew that Lopez and Quintana were up the road, and Lopez especially had something to gain, so I knew he’d maybe work with me. As they say, sometimes attack is the best form of defence. I gave it everything I had and thankfully it was enough.”
Alejandro Valverde drinks in the fans’ affections ahead of the final day. He won here in 2009 and is set to take the green jersey this year, but will ultimately count this one a disappointment. He was 25secs behind Yates going into the weekend – a gap that has increased tenfold over the last two days.
Respeto, cariño y admiración | Respect, affection and admiration
Half an hour until the glutes start pumping under the Alcorcón sun. Before then, treat yourself to William Fotheringham’s in-depth piece on the making of a champion in waiting:
Afternoon all and welcome to the
exciting final stage of the Vuelta a España!
Simon Yates victory parade
In case you somehow missed it, yesterday saw Simon Yates tighten his grip on the red jersey – fighting off attacks from the Colombian duo Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) – to all but secure himself a historic first Grand Tour victory.