British rider Simon Yates of the Mitchelton-Scott team celebrates on the podium after winning the La Vuelta cycling race in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
British rider Simon Yates of the Mitchelton-Scott team celebrates on the podium after winning the La Vuelta cycling race in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Historic Grand Tour win for Aussie team

MITCHELTON-SCOTT have become the first Australian men's cycling team to produce a Grand Tour winner after their British rider Simon Yates clinched victory in the Vuelta a Espana.

Yates, 26, successfully defended his lead of one minute 46 seconds over second- placed Enric Mas of Spain in the final stage of the 21-day race, a mostly processional 100.9km ride through Madrid, where Italian Elia Viviani took a third stage win of this year's Vuelta by pipping Peter Sagan in a bunch sprint. Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez finished third overall, two minutes four seconds behind.

Yates became the virtual winner of the Vuelta after finishing third in Saturday's penultimate stage in the mountains of Andorra, making up for his collapse towards the end of the Giro d'Italia after wearing the pink jersey in 13 stages.

He completed a cycle of British victories in the three Grand Tours this year after Chris Froome won the Giro in May and Geraint Thomas captured the Tour de France in July.

"It feels great, really unbelievable," Yates said on the Mitchelton-Scott website. "I think it's still sinking in. I have no words, it's just really unbelievable.

"I like to race on my instinct and I hope that I continue to do so and achieve more big results like today at the Vuelta.

"I came back from real heartbreak from the Giro d'Italia and I am still in shock that I've managed to pull it off and it will take a while for it to sink in just what we've accomplished. I get really nervous up on the stage, but it was a very special moment that I will cherish forever." Julian Dean, the Mitchelton-Scott sport director, praised his rider's "massive progression this year".

The Kiwi added: "I think even to progress from how he raced at the Giro to here in such a short space of time, is really testament to his willingness to learn. "There's still a few things we could improve upon with Simon and, when he starts to understand those things, this kind of result will be repeatable."

 

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