Simon Yates and Mitchelton Scott are virtual winners of the 2018 Vuelta a Espana. After an all but processional ride into Madrid later tonight (local time), it will be both Yates and the team’s historic first-ever Grand Tour victory.
26yo Yates put in another solid performance at Stage 20 of La Vuelta overnight. The young Brit made light work of the final climb to finish third behind Enric Mas (Quick Step Floors) who won Stage 20 after out-sprinting Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) to the high-mountain finish line in Andorra.
Yates, who has been keeping a cool head and taking the race day by day, said the enormity of the Grand Tour win was beginning to sink in.
“It’s the first Grand Tour for the team, it’s just unbelievable,” he said.
Describing Stage 20, the final mountain race day, Yates said on the final climb he was at his limit.
“Lopez and Mas … they were both incredible in the final and I just tried to ride my own rhythm and that was it,” he said. “I gave everything that I had and thankfully it was enough.
“I feel much better now that we have finished, it was a really crazy day and fast. Once again, I want to thank the team. Everybody really stepped up, even the big guys who you didn’t expect to be there on the climbs. They were just unbelievable, a really incredible day.”
More to come.
2018 La Vuelta a Espana Top 5 After Stage 20
|1||Simon Yates Mitchelton-Scott||79:44:30|
|2||Enric Mas Quick-Step Floors||+1:46|
|3||Miguel Angel Lopez Astana Pro Team||2:04|
|4||Steven Kruijswijk LottoNL-Jumbo||2:54|
|5||Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team||4:28|
Earlier: Simon Yates has surged closer to his first Grand Tour win, the 26yo Mitchelton-Scott rider putting in a scintillating performance on Stage 19 of la Vuelta and gaining time on his nearest rival.
Yates appeared to be in scorching form, making light work of the final 17km Andorran climb to finish second overall on the stage to Frenchman Thibot Pinot.
Starting the stage just 25-seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, Yates managed to gain more than a minute over the Spanish veteran and now enjoys a 1m38sec buffer over his nearest rival. Third on General Classification some 30 seconds back – and with just one mountain stage to go – is Steven Kruijswijk.
One More Day In The Mountains
Thanking his team and stating he felt good throughout the challenging uphill stage, Yates said full focus was now on the final climbing day.
“There is only one more day to go,” he said. “We really need to focus on that now, we will enjoy this moment but it is not over for another day. I know too well in one-day everything can chance so we will try to recover and give it everything to try and win the race now. I will just try to stay focussed now, it is not over until it is over.”
Tomorrow’s stage 20 will see the riders cover just 97km but do battle over more than 3000m of elevation. The 20th stage traverses Andorra’s most difficult climbs … could it be the location history is made and Aussie outfit Mitchelton-Scott’s cement their first Grand Tour win?