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Vuelta a Espana 2018: Simon Yates seals vintage year for British cycling with overall victory

Joe Robinson
16 Sep 2018

Yates secures red as Elia Viviani takes yet another victory for Quick-Step Floors

Simon Yates rolled into Madrid to secure a historic victory in the Vuelta a Espana, rounding off an 'annus mirabilis' for Great British cycling as they take home victory in all three Grand Tours in 2018.

Yates's Vuelta red joins Chris Froome's Giro d'Italia victory and Geraint Thomas's Tour de France win as Britain becomes the first nation to win all three Grand Tours in one season with three individual riders. Britain also becomes the first country to take five back-to-back Grand Tour victories, starting with Froome's 2017 Tour win. 

In terms of stage honours, that went to Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) who left his sprint late to overcome World Champion Peter Sagan who had to settle for second.

The peloton sprung into action with a furious pace for the final 10km catching a sacrificial three-man break that never forged a gap larger than 20 seconds. 

The peloton hit the finishing straight at high speed with Viviani leaving it until the final 200 metres to launch his winning sprint. The Italian's third stage of the race also secured Quick-Step's 67th victory of the 2018 season.

Procession into Madrid

The fight for General Classification had finished on the mountains of Andorra, 24 hours previous. Yates had done enough to secure red while young Spaniard Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) took the stage from Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana). 

The latter two also join Yates on the overall podium following yesterday's heroics proving a true generational shift in Grand Tour racing. Yates is just 26, Lopez is 24 and Mas just 23 but yet they put experienced campaigners such as Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Rigoberto Uran to the sword.

Mas, in particular, is one to watch. Long tipped as the heir to Alberto Contador's throne, the Quick-Step man raced little team support in the mountains yet managed to negotiate three weeks of racing almost perfectly for someone with so little experience.

However, the man of the moment was Yates. Resplendent in red, his team had also tipped their hat to him by adding red to their jerseys as well as their bikes. As the largely processional stage began, they amassed towards the front meandering the peloton towards Madrid. 

The usual photos were taken and hands shakes given before the pace increased into the Spanish capital. A retiring Igor Anton (Dimension Data) was allowed to take the first loop of the city alone, as a thank you to the Basque rider, before a break of six formed to restore some normality. 

These six finally whittled down to four with 40km left to race around the short 5.7km Madridian circuit. BH-Burgos and Euskadi-Murias were represented alongside Astana and BMC Racing as they stole 16 seconds off of the front. The gap hovered around that gap as the peloton kept them within sight with just 25km left to go.

The peloton began to splinter towards the front with some finding themselves detached up ahead. This was possible because the pace simply was not that high. The three leaders had little chance and the sprint trains knew that the catch could be taken at any moment.

It was with 7km left that the three leaders were reeled back in by a peloton increasing in intensity. It was Bora-Hansgrohe conducting the orchestra in support of its conductor, Peter Sagan. 

The peloton hit the final kilometre at speed. Sagan launched his sprint but eventually did not have the legs to match a rampaging Viviani.