Vuelta a Espana: Simon Yates wins first Grand Tour to secure British clean sweep

16 Sep

2018 is the year for British cyclists at the Grand Tours after Simon Yates was confirmed champion at the Vuelta a Espana.

The victory marks a clean sweep of the Grand Tours for Britain after Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas won the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France respectively – an unprecedented achievement.

The moment Yates completed his La Vuelta triumph

The 26-year-old Bury racer, whose success was all but guaranteed as he headed into Sunday’s largely processional final stage into Madrid with a one minute and 46 seconds lead, avoided any late mishaps to land his first Grand Tour title.

Indeed, it was a moment for the history books, with the three titles having never before been held by three riders from the same country.

Yates said: “It’s astonishing really. Growing up I was so accustomed to seeing the French, Italian and Spanish riders lead the way, so for myself, Chris and Geraint to all win a Grand Tour in the same year just shows how far the sport has come in this country.”

Froome, whose Tour-Vuelta double last year means British riders have now won five Grand Tours in a row, paid tribute to Yates’ achievement, saying: “Simon has looked so strong over the last three weeks and it’s great to see him take home the maillot rojo. It’s been a perfect year for British riders.”

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas (left) and Chris Froome (right) won the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia respectively this year

Elia Viviani out-sprinted Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to win the 21st stage after a flat 100.9 kilometre ride from Alcorcon on Sunday, while Yates retained his advantage over Spain’s
Enric Mas, Viviani’s team-mate at Quick-Step Floors, in the final general classification standings.

And the day belonged firmly to the man in red, who has recovered from the disappointment of running out of gas at the Giro after holding the race leader’s pink jersey for 13 days to triumph in Spain.

Those punishing three weeks may have ended in heartache, but they proved Yates, who won the young rider classification at last year’s Tour de France, had what it takes to contend in Grand Tours – and he delivered at the very next opportunity.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: “Simon Yates’s brilliant victory in the Vuelta is the latest success in a phenomenal year for British Cycling, following on from Froome winning the Giro d’Italia and Thomas the Tour d France.

“It is testament to the talent development programme of British Cycling, backed by National Lottery cash, that so many of our riders have become the world-leading cyclists that they are today. Their success is helping to encourage many more people get on their bikes and get active.”

Geraint Thomas admits he could sit out Vuelta a Espana after Tour de France victory

31 Jul

Geraint Thomas has admitted he could sit out this year’s Vuelta a Espana after winning the Tour de France.

Thomas, the Team Sky rider, was crowned general classification victor on Sunday, becoming the first ever Welshman to win Le Tour.

Thomas has become a celebrity almost overnight

The 32-year-old earned the yellow jersey for the first time by winning stage 11, and he held it for the remaining 10 stages to wrap up the biggest success of his career.

Thomas was due to take part in the Vuelta a Espana, an event in which he has competed just once, but he now appears likely to miss the three week event.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Thomas admitted he can’t see himself taking part in the Vuelta, which begins towards the end of next month.

“I’ll just sort of chill out a bit, really,” Thomas replied, when asked about his plans for the coming months.

“I’ll still ride my bike most days, as the season is still ongoing – it doesn’t finish until October.

“I need to sit down with the team and plan the races until the end of the season.

“I was down to do the Vuelta, the tour of Spain, which is another three week race, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now.”

Winning Le Tour is by far the greatest achievement in Thomas’ career, having also won three World Championships and two Olympic gold medals.

The Cardiff-born rider has become a celebrity almost overnight, and he admitted it was ‘surreal’ to be congratulated by some of his heroes from the world of sport and entertainment.

“It was insane,” he continued. “I had a video message off Thierry Henry, and then when we were sat in the airport waiting to fly to London I spoke to Arsene Wenger on the phone.

“It was just so surreal.

The Welshman first claimed the yellow jersey after winning stage 11

“The team got a few ‘well done’ messages put together for me, from people like Dan Carter, Rob Brydon, Lee Dixon… it’s just bonkers.

“These are people who, when I was a kid, I was growing up watching and who inspired me, and then they’re saying ‘well done’ and how they’ve enjoyed watching me.”