Category: Vuelta a Espana

VN podcast, ep. 107: The importance of Yates’s Vuelta victory

Welcome to the VeloNews cycling podcast, where we discuss the latest trends, news, and controversies in the world of cycling.

The 2018 grand tour season was a British invasion! Simon Yates made it a clean sweep by winning the Vuelta a España.

Was it a good edition of the Vuelta? What does it mean for Yates? How do we rank this year’s grand tours? We unpack the action from Spain.

Then, Fred talks to Gregor Brown who followed the race on the ground and he speaks to Mitchelton-Scott team director Matt White via Skype after the team’s first grand tour victory.

Plus, Spencer talks about the story behind Breck Epic mountain bike race’s decision not to sell to Ironman.

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If you like what you hear, subscribe to the VeloNews podcast on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play. Please give us a review and a rating, if you have time! Also, check out the VeloNews Fast Talk training podcast with Trevor Connor.

Read the full article at VN podcast, ep. 107: The importance of Yates’s Vuelta victory on VeloNews.com.

Vuelta Photo Essay: Yates rides to overall victory






























Read the full article at Vuelta Photo Essay: Yates rides to overall victory on VeloNews.com.

Spain hails Enric Mas as next big thing after Vuelta performance


All of Spain is abuzz following the breakthrough performance of Enric Mas during the Vuelta a España.

Mas’s second overall with a stage victory in the final week is pulsing through the Spanish cycling community, which is hungry for a new star to cheer for.

“Spanish cycling can dare to dream with him,” said Alberto Contador, the retired star who said Mas could be Spain’s next big thing. “He really stepped up and he did it in his style of attacking, which is something the fans really love.”

It’s not what the 23-year-old Mas did but how he did it that is reverberating. In just his second grand tour start, Mas put his stamp on this Vuelta with aggressive racing and strong character that has many in Spain hoping they’ve found a star to give fans and media someone to route for.

“This Vuelta only motivates me for the future,” Mas said. “I never thought I could do so well when we left Málaga, but by the third week, I started to believe.”

Thousands turned out this week to cheer on Mas on a homecoming to his village of Artá on the Spanish island of Mallorca. He now trains and lives in Andorra and is a product of Fundación Contador, a development team founded by Contador who hailed Mas as his natural heir last year.

Mas caught the eye of Joxean Fernández Matxin, now a director at UAE-Emirates who worked for years as a talent scout for Quick-Step Floors. In 2016, Mas joined the Belgian outfit’s Klein Constantia development team, which at the time included current WorldTour pros Ivan Cortina (Bahrain-Merida), Nuno Bico (Movistar), Remi Cavagna, Jhonathan Naváez and Max Schachmann (Quick-Step). Mas was impressive enough to get a bump to the WorldTour team in 2017.

After a solid rookie season, he won a stage at this year’s Vuelta al País Vasco where he finished an encouraging sixth overall in what’s considered the most demanding one-week stage race on the calendar. After riding to fourth overall at the Tour de Suisse, he only raced four days before the Vuelta started.

“I really didn’t know how I would go,” Mas said. “I felt better and better as the race unfolded. I had no pressure and I could make my own race.”

Even more impressive about how Mas rode to second was that he did it without much of a team around him. Quick-Step brought half the team to help sprinter Elia Viviani, who delivered with three stage victories. Pieter Serry and Laurens De Plus helped out where they could, but it was often Mas vs. the world when the pack hit the major climbs.

“I don’t know how well I could have done with a full team at my service because a lot can happen over three weeks,” Mas said. “This Vuelta only encourages me.”

Mas was hanging around the top 10 for the first two weeks and with some firepower ahead of him on the GC, no one really had him on the radar for a podium spot.

A strong time trial at Torrelavega in stage 16 pushed him into fifth. Mas revealed his character and attacking style in the final three mountain stages, which he capped by winning the penultimate stage across Andorra.

Quick-Step knows it has a diamond in the rough, but will the team step up and sign riders to support him? With such bounty in the classics and one-day racers — coupled with ongoing sponsorship questions — the team might not have room on the roster to build a parallel GC program.

“That responsibility motivates me,” Mas said. “I know I have to keep learning and keep working to improve everything.”

Mas’s rising star coincides with a Spanish peloton suddenly bereft of major stars. Only Alejandro Valverde remains active of Spain’s golden generation that included Contador, Carlos Sastre, Óscar Freire, and Joaquim Rodríguez.

There are some other young Spanish riders coming up and Mikel Landa (Movistar) seems poised for a breakout ride, but it’s Mas who is delivering the goods right now.

“I’d love to race the Tour, but I have time to speak with the directors and we can plan out the coming season,” Mas said. “It’s the first podium I’ve reached and I hope it’s not my last.”

Spain isn’t hoping it’s his last either.

Read the full article at Spain hails Enric Mas as next big thing after Vuelta performance on VeloNews.com.

VeloNews Show: Three key takeaways from the Vuelta

This episode of the VeloNews Show includes footage and imagery from Getty Images/Velo Collection, YouTube/inCycle, YouTube/La Vuelta, and YouTube/GQ.

Always one of the season’s most entertaining races, the Vuelta a España delivered lots of surprises, and we have three big takeaways from the 2018 race:

1. There’s a new grand tour champion in the peloton.
2. The youth movement is alive and well.
3. What is going on with Movistar?!

We analyze the Vuelta and then critique the UCI’s latest wacky idea to improve pro cycling. (They stole it from soccer.)

This episode of the VeloNews show is sponsored by Zwift. Want to see what it is like to ride the 2018 UCI World Road Championships circuit in Innsbruck, Austria? You can challenge yourself on the mountainous course from the comfort of your home. Go to Zwift.com to learn more.

Read the full article at VeloNews Show: Three key takeaways from the Vuelta on VeloNews.com.

Simon Yates would not have won Vuelta with Team Sky, says Bradley Wiggins

• Former Team Skyrider speaks out against previous employers
• Wiggins: Yates deserves extra credit after Giro near miss

Sir Bradley Wiggins has claimed Simon Yates would have not have achieved his historic Vuelta success had he chosen to pursue his career with Team Sky. Wiggins believes Yates’s decision to steer clear of one of the sport’s most pre-eminent teams enabled him to storm to victory in Madrid on Sunday.

Related: Youth and potential puts Simon Yates at head of cycling’s next generation | William Fotheringham

Related: Simon Yates’s Vuelta a España win offers glimpse of world without Sky | William Fotheringham

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Vuelta: With mixed emotions, Movistar finishes off GC podium


A three-week harvest of two stage wins, the points jersey, a top-5 overall, and the team prize would be a great Vuelta a España for just about any team, except Movistar.

The Spanish super-team leaves the Vuelta with mixed emotions. Movistar was a player in every facet of the race, but it fell short of its goals.

When Spain’s lone WorldTour team is racing on home roads with two of the pre-race favorites, anything short of overall victory is a disappointment.

“Sometimes in cycling, there are times when there isn’t a correlation between the efforts you put in and the results you take,” said Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué. “We had the pressure on our shoulders because we were the local team with Nairo [Quintana] and Alejandro [Valverde].”

Movistar leaves the Vuelta without a grand tour victory or podium for the entire season. A fourth-place result by Richard Carapaz at the Giro d’Italia was its best all season.

For most teams, two top-5s in grand tours would be a step in the right direction. Not if you’re Movistar, a team accustomed to racing for the biggest prizes in grand tours.

What happened during this Vuelta? As Valverde put it, others were simply better.

“You have to know how to win and how to lose,” Valverde said. “I never get mad at myself because if you lose, it’s because others did it better than you did.”

Valverde, who suffered a career-threatening knee injury in a crash in the opening stage of the 2017 Tour, surprised at every turn. The 38-year-old came to the Vuelta to prepare for the worlds, but he grew into the most serious challenger to Yates.

He won two stages in the first week and clawed to within one second of the red leader’s jersey. Valverde emerged as the most direct threat to Yates, just 25 seconds back going into the final weekend.

The wheels came off the Movistar wagon for good in Andorra. Movistar tried an aggressive tactic to knock Yates off balance, but it was the Mitchelton-Scott rider who punched first and knocked Valverde off the final podium.

Valverde, however, leaves the Vuelta emboldened for the upcoming world championships.

“I will go for it in the worlds,” Valverde said. “It’s a one-day race and anything can happen. I’ll arrive full of hope, motivation, and a good moment of form.”

Valverde held up his end of the bargain, so it’s Quintana who will be wondering what happened.

“Today is a sad day,” Quintana said Sunday in Madrid. “We didn’t achieve our objectives. Valverde couldn’t reach the podium and I leave without winning a stage. It’s hard to win and sometimes people seem to forget that.”

The Colombian, who won the Vuelta in 2016, faded in northern Spain during three decisive climbing stages across the Cantabrian Mountains. Quintana looked poised to move into the red jersey after a solid ride up La Camperona, but he fell back at Les Praeres and suffered even more losses at Lagos de Covadonga. By the time the race hit Andorra, however, he was in full domestique mode to try to help Valverde salvage the team’s ambitions.

“[Quintana] put in big efforts to go for the red jersey in the first two weeks of racing,” Unzué said. “As soon as he realized he was not in position to win, he showed a great attitude to put himself at the service of Valverde.”

Quintana isn’t paid to be a super domestique. With an eighth overall and a 10th at the Tour de France this summer, 2018 marks the first time the Colombian did not hit a grand tour podium since his grand tour debut in 2012. Every year since then, he’s at least finished on a grand tour podium (and won two along the way) in 11 starts.

“We will have time to look at what we didn’t get right,” Quintana said. “We’ll have to do the work to be back at the maximum level. We’ll be back at the Tour de France next year; with whom and how, we can figure that out at the end of the season.”

Movistar took some consolation in the team prize and in how it carried itself throughout the Vuelta.

“I’m proud of the teamwork over the past three weeks. They were impeccable,” Unzué said. “In the end, all three podium finishers deserved to be up there. It’s a sort of generational handover.”

Movistar will try to get its ship back on course for 2019. Mikel Landa, who was seventh at the Tour despite a crash, will be back with untapped ambitious. Valverde will be riding out the last year of his contract and perhaps the final season of his career.

The pressure will be on Quintana, who turns 29 next year, to demonstrate that he can still win a grand tour. Crashes and other mishaps took their collective toll on the team’s stars in 2018. Movistar is hoping it can produce the victories that its fans and sponsors expect and demand.

Read the full article at Vuelta: With mixed emotions, Movistar finishes off GC podium on VeloNews.com.

Final win in rainbow stripes eludes Sagan


Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) didn’t get the final victory in the rainbow jersey he was hoping for.

The three-time world champion raced for what’s likely the last time in the stripes during Sunday’s finale at the Vuelta a España — at least this time around. Sagan was second behind Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) and did not win during the three-week Vuelta despite some close calls.

“I tried my best but it wasn’t enough to win the stage,” Sagan said Sunday. “Congratulations to Elia for his victory.”

Sagan returned to the Vuelta for the first time since 2015, with the hopes of winning another stage. Banged up and battered from his high-speed crash near the end of the Tour de France, Sagan admitted he wasn’t at his best at the start of the race.

Sagan hoped to ride into condition as well as win a stage. Initially it was expected that Sagan would leave the Vuelta after stage 12, but he stayed in the race all the way to Madrid with hopes of claiming what likely would be his last to win in the world champion stripes.

Sagan came close during the Vuelta, finishing second or third six times. His nemesis was Italian sprinter Viviani, a close friend and rival in the sprints. The Italian won three sprints during the Vuelta.

The Vuelta puts an end to Sagan’s tremendous three-year run in the world champion’s jersey. Sagan’s last victory was stage 13 during the Tour de France on July 20. One more win simply wasn’t in the cards.

“We finish this edition of the Vuelta having achieved less than what we had hoped for,” said general manager Ralph Denk. “We came to Spain aiming at a top-10 position in the GC and at least a stage win. We came close to those goals but we didn’t reach them, so we can’t be really happy.”

Sagan will next race at the world championships in Innsbruck. Though he is the defending champion, he won’t wear the stripes during the road race per tradition.

Sagan isn’t considered a favorite for the climb-heavy worlds course and has downplayed his chances, but he will line up anyway in part to honor the jersey.

So, will Innsbruck finally see the end to Sagan’s three-year reign as world champion? Dutch rider Bauke Mollema said don’t be too sure.

“You never know! I would not be surprised if he is still there in the final. The course looks super-hard so maybe everyone will wait until the final lap,” Mollema said. “That final climb is very steep so it’s not the perfect course for him, but you never know with Peter Sagan.”

Read the full article at Final win in rainbow stripes eludes Sagan on VeloNews.com.

Vuelta champ Yates still thinking about Giro


FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Simon Yates is keeping the Giro d’Italia in the back of his mind even with the Vuelta a España celebrations continuing.

The 26-year-old Brit won the Vuelta a España Sunday with Team Mitchelton-Scott. Over three weeks, he was in the red leader’s jersey for 11 days and notched a victory on the Praeres stage. But he will not forget the Giro, which taught him a few lessons in May.

“There’s no real big secret to it,” he said. “It’s just about staying calm in the moment that calls for it, and not being too aggressive.”

Yates led for most of the Giro with an aggressive start that saw him win three stages. But he cracked with 48 hours left to race. Instead, Chris Froome rolled into Rome wearing the race leader’s pink jersey. It made a difference on how he and the team called the Spanish race over the last three weeks.

“Everyone feels good in the first week because everyone has prepared well. For me, that was really the biggest difference,” Yates said. “I arrived at the second rest day in the Vuelta… I wouldn’t say fresh, but compared to how I was feeling in the Giro, it was a different league.

“I think that was where the difference was made. We made the right calls on the road when needed, not being too aggressive. That’s really all I think was the difference.”

Of course, he had to race the Giro aggressively to gain as much time as possible on his main rivals Tom Dumoulin and Froome. Both are much better in time trials, with Dumoulin being the current world champion. In Spain, Yates did not have such a threat.

Fans instead saw an aggressive Yates in the final Andorran stages, attacking 10 kilometers out Friday and 17 kilometers out Saturday.

“For me personally, it comes back to more of a mindset thing. When I find myself on the defensive, it’s quite hard, mentally, to react to people. You never feel like you have the edge or you get the jump, or you surprise anyone,” continued Yates.

“But when you’re more aggressive and you’re attacking, you get that little bit of momentum, you have that bit of a jump, that bit of surprise, and it makes a big difference. So it’s more of a mindset thing than a physical thing.”

Losing the pink jersey after holding it for 13 days from the south to the north of Italy affected Yates. His team explained that he rebounded quickly, but Yates admitted “unfinished business” could see him seek revenge in 2019 instead of targeting the Tour de France.

“My gut feeling is that I’d like to go back to the Giro because I have unfinished business there,” Yates said.

“I’ve not thought about it too much because I’ve been concentrating on [the Vuelta] and the world championships. But my gut feeling is that’s where I’d like to try again.”

Yates last finished seventh in the 2017 Tour, when he also won the white jersey for the best young rider. This winter, the team will plan his schedule along with its other leaders, including Yates’ twin brother Adam and Colombian Esteban Chaves.

Next up, the Yates twins will head up the British national team at the world championship road race in Innsbruck, Austria.

Read the full article at Vuelta champ Yates still thinking about Giro on VeloNews.com.

Youth and potential puts Simon Yates at head of cycling’s next generation | William Fotheringham

The Vuelta champion is the youngest recent grand tour winner and can benefit from his team’s new focus on the discipline

Seven years ago, when Simon Yates took his first stage win at the Tour de l’Avenir, Great Britain had yet to win one of cycling’s major tours, although Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome were about to come agonisingly close at the Vuelta a España. Eight grand tour wins later, out of a possible 18, with four different riders, British domination of this side of cycling now seems a given, in the same way that Quickstep Floors are expected to rule the roost in one‑day Classics.

In winning the Vuelta by 1min 46sec from the surprise runner-up Enric Mas, Yates has finally confirmed the potential he showed back in 2011. It was a timely leap, as the next generation is waiting in the wings: the American Sepp Kuss, so strong in the first two weeks of his first grand tour, Spain’s Mas, the Colombians Miguel Ángel López and Egan Bernal.

Related: Simon Yates’s Vuelta a España win offers glimpse of world without Sky | William Fotheringham

Related: Simon Yates’s Vuelta victory crowns a stunning year for British cycling

Born 7 August 1992 in Bury, Greater Manchester.

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Yates steps out of Sky shadows to reign in Spain


MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) stepped out of the shadows of British cycling giants Sky on Sunday to secure his maiden grand tour triumph at the Vuelta a España.

Yates, a former track racer whose road racing talents took him to the brink of victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia, all but wrapped up overall victory on Saturday after yet another strong finish on the final mountain stage in Andorra.

After a largely processional final stage to Madrid on Sunday was claimed by Elia Viviani in a bunch sprint, the 26-year-old Englishman triumphed with a winning time of 82:05:58sec, Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) finishing second overall at 1:46 and Miguel Angel López (Astana) completing the podium.

It was Yates’s first victory in a three-week race and comes months after the stinging disappointment of losing the Giro d’Italia, having controlled the race for much of the opening two weeks last May.

On that occasion, Sky leader Chris Froome capitalized on Yates’s collapse in the mountains to secure the race’s pink jersey and seal his third consecutive grand tour after winning the Tour de France and Vuelta in 2017.

Froome’s grand tour-winning streak came to an end in July, when teammate Geraint Thomas, who also honed his skills on the track, upset the Kenyan-born Briton to triumph at the Tour de France.

Yates’s win on Sunday meant British riders have dominated all three grand tours in 2018. He also took Britain’s impressive streak of consecutive Grand Tour victories to five; although it won’t be lost on British cycling aficionados that it was the first British win outside of Team Sky.

Thanks to their multi-million pound budget and ability to attract the best cyclists for specific roles and races, Sky are considered the ‘Real Madrid’ of the professional peloton.

Sky, who formed on the back of the success enjoyed by Britain’s all-conquering world and Olympic track squad, would be forgiven for ignoring Yates’ obvious talents.

Yates was only 17 years old when Sky formed in 2009 with the ambition to “win the Tour de France, clean, with a British rider within five years.”

While Bradley Wiggins was on route to achieving that objective within three years, in 2012, Yates was a budding track rider whose efforts earned him a place on British Cycling’s Olympic Programme.

Yates, Froome’s teammate at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, won his first world title on the track three years later, in the points race.

The same year, Yates offered a glimpse of his road racing instincts, too. Competing for the Great Britain national squad at the Tour de l’Avenir — considered a ‘mini Tour de France’ for riders aged under-25 — Yates won stage five, ahead of his twin brother Adam, who also rides for Mitchelton-Scott.

Yates made sure it was no fluke by winning the next day’s stage, on his way to a 10th place finish overall. Those successes, ironically, signaled Yates’ potential as a grand tour winner well ahead of Froome, and Thomas.

At the Tour of Britain later that season, Yates took what was his biggest career win when he sprinted clear of a select group of strong climbers which included Wiggins and Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to claim victory on stage six.

With spaces on Team Sky at a premium, Yates joined the Orica-GreenEdge outfit in 2014 — a move that has indirectly led to his most recent successes.

Former Orica sporting director Matt White holds the position at Yates’ current team Mitchelton-Scott, and has seen the slightly-built Englishman build an impressive portfolio of results in the seasons since.

Read the full article at Yates steps out of Sky shadows to reign in Spain on VeloNews.com.