CYCLING: Simon Yates claims Vuelta a Espana title

More history for British cycling as Simon Yates won the 73rd La Vuelta a Espana, out-dueling everyone on the final two mountain stages to maintain a lead he took after the ninth stage.

On Friday, the 19th stage finished with a brutal climb of more than 1,000 m over the final 17 km. Yates had the lead late in the race, but finished five seconds behind winner Thibaut Pinot of France, but padded his lead over his main rival – Spain’s Alejandro Valverde – from 25 seconds up to 1:38. That meant the race came down to Saturday.

Stage 20 in Andorra was short at 97.3 m, but was the meanest stage of the entire event, with six major climbs and an uphill finish at the Collada de la Gallina. All of the contenders were near the front, but Yates again proved just about the best, finishing third, 23 seconds behind Spain’s Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez (COL), but ahead of everyone else who mattered. Yates’s lead was a comfortable 1:46 over Mas and 2:04 ahead of Lopez, with Valverde dropped to fifth, and that’s the way it ended.

Yates finished not only as the race winner, but had four podium finishes, seven stages in the top 10 and 11 total in the top 20. His win makes him the fifth straight Grand Tour winner from Great Britain, after Chris Froome won three in a row (Tour de France-La Vuelta-Giro d’Italia) and Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Tour. Yates becomes only the second British rider – after Froome – to win the Vuelta, a race which started in 1935.

Colombia’s Lopez was the only man to medal in more than one of the Grand Tours this year, finishing third in the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

Ben King of the U.S. placed 24th overall and won two stages, so he’s a rider to watch for the future. With the World Road Race Championships coming up in Innsbruck next week, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan showed he’s in world-class form, looking for his fourth straight world title; he finished second four times and third twice. Summaries:

UCI World Tour/La Vuelta a Espana
Spain ~ 25 August-16 September 2018
(Full results here)

Stage 1 (8.0 km Indiv. Time Trial): 1. Rohan Dennis (AUS), 9:39; 2. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), 9:45; 3. Victor Campanaerts (BEL), 9:46; 4. Nelson Oliveira (POR), 9:56; 5. Dylan van Baarle (NED), 9:59. Also in the top 50: 15. Brent Bookwalter (USA), 10:02; … 21. Joey Rosskopf (USA), 10:07; … 24. Ben King (USA), 10:08.

Stage 2 (163.5 km): 1. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), 4:13:01; 2. Kwiatkowski (POL), 4:13:01; 2. Laurens de Plus (BEL), 4:13:04; 4. Wilco Kelderman (NED), 4:13:04; 5. George Bennett (NZL), 4:13:04. Also in the top 50: 48. Ian Boswell (USA), 4:14:06.

Stage 3 (178.2 km): 1. Elia Viviani (ITA), 4:48:12; 2. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA), 4:48:12; 3. Peter Sagan (SVK), 4:48:12; 4. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA), 4:48:12; 5. Simone Consonni (ITA), 4:48:12.

Stage 4 (161.4 km): 1. King (USA), 4:33:12; 2. Nikita Stalnov (KAZ), 4:33:14; 3. Pierre Rolland (FRA), 4:33:25; 4. Luis Angel Mate (ESP), 4:33:20; 5. Ben Gastauer (LUX), 4:34:51. Also in the top 50: 27. Sepp Kuss (USA), 4:37:04.

Stage 5 (188.7 km): 1. Simon Clarke (AUS), 4:36:07; 2. Bauke Mollema (NED), 4:36:07; 3. Alessandro de Marchi (ITA), 4:36:07; 4. Davide Villella (ITA), 4:36:15; 5. Floris de Tier (BEL), 4:36:15. Also in the top 50: 16. Bookwalter (USA), 4:39:59; 17. Kuss (USA), 4:39:49; … 24. King (USA), 4:41:02.

Stage 6 (155.7 km): 1. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA), 3:58:35; 2. Danny van Poppel (NED), 3:58:35; 3. Elia Viviani (ITA), 3:58:35; 4. Consonni (ITA), 3:58:35; 5. Matteo Trentin (ITA), 3:58:35.

Stage 7 (185.7 km): 1. Tony Gallopin (FRA), 4:18:20; 2. Sagan (SVK), 4:18:25; 3. Valverde (ESP), 4:18:25; 4. Eduard Prades (ESP), 4:18:25; 5. Omar Fraile (ESP), 4:18:25. Also in the top 50: 10. Kuss (USA), 4:18:25; … 48. King (USA), 4:20:08.

Stage 8 (195.1 km): 1. Valverde (ESP), 4:35:54; 2. Sagan (SVK), 4:35:54; 3. Van Poppel (NED), 4:35:54; 4. Ion Izagirre (ESP), 4:35:54; 5. Nizzolo (ITA), 4:35:54. Also in the top 50: 47. King (USA), 4:35:54.

Stage 9 (200.8 km): 1. King (USA), 5:30:38; 2. Mollema (NED), 5:31:26; 3.Dylan Teuns (BEL), 5:33:16; 4. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL), 5:33:18; 5. Nairo Quintana (COL), 5:33:18. Also in the top 50: 20. Kuss (USA), 5:34:10.

Stage 10 (177.0 km): 1. Viviani (ITA), 4:08:08; 2. Sagan (SVK), 4:08:08; 3. Nizzolo (ITA), 4:08:08; 4. Nelson Andres Soto (COL), 4:08:08; 5. Marc Sarreau (FRA), 4:08:08. Also in the top 50: 27. Kiel Reiknen (USA), 4:08:08.

Stage 11 (207.8 km): 1. De Marchi (ITA), 4:52:38; 2. Jhonatan Restrepo (COL), 4:53:06; 3. Franco Pellizotti (ITA), 4:52:37; 4. Nans Peters (FRA), 4:54:02; 5. Teuns (BEL), 4:54:23. Also in the top 50: 34. Kuss (USA), 4:55.21; 35. King (USA), 4:55:21.

Stage 12 (181.1 km): 1. Alexandre Geniez (FRA), 4:22:59; 2. Dylan van Baarle (NED), 4:22:59; 3. Mark Padun (UKR), 4:22:59; 4. Teuns (BEL), 4:22:59; 5. Campanaerts (BEL), 4:23:01. Also in the top 50: 40. Kuss (USA), 4:34:38.

Stage 13 (174.8 km): 1. Oscar Rodriguez (ESP), 4:17:05; 2. Rafal Majka (POL), 4:17:24; 3. Teuns (BEL), 4:17:35; 4. 4. Bjorg Lambrecht (BEL), 4:17:43; 5. Laurens de Plus (BEL), 4:17:48. Also in the top 50: 10. King (USA), 4:18:23; … 13. Rosskopf (USA), 4:18:44.

Stage 14 (171.0 km): 1. Simon Yates (GBR), 4:19:27; 2. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL), 4:19:29; 3. Valverde (ESP), 4:19:29; 4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA), 4:19:32; 5. Nairo Quintana (COL), 4:19:34.

Stage 15 (178.2 km): 1. Pinot (FRA), 5:01:49; 2. M.A. Lopez (COL), 5:01:17; 3. S. Yates (GBR), 5:01:19; 4. Valverde (ESP), 5:01:21; 5. Steven Kruijswijk (NED), 5:01:21.

Stage 16 (Indiv. Time Trial: 32.0 km): 1. Dennis (AUS), 37:57; 2. Rosskopf (USA), 38:47; 3. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP), 38:47; 4. Steven Kruijswijk (NED), 38:48; 5. Kwiatkowski (POL), 38:48. Also in the top 50: 37. Bookwalter (USA), 40:37.

Stage 17 (157.0 km): 1. Michael Woods (CAN), 4:09:48; 2. Teuns (BEL), 4:09:53; 3. David de la Cruz (ESP), 4:09:58; 4. Majka (POL), 4:10:01; 5. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS), 4:10:26.

Stage 18 (186.1 km): 1. Jelle Wallays (BEL), 3:57:03; 2. Sven Erik Bystrom (NOR), 3:57:03; 3. Sagan (SVK), 3:57:03; 4. Viviani (ITA), 3:57:03; 5. Ivan Garcia Cortina (ESP), 3:57:03. Also in the top 50: 40. King (USA), 3:57:03.

Stage 19 (154.4 km): 1. Pinot (FRA), 3:42:05; 2. S. Yates (GBR), 3:42:07; 3. Kruijswijk (NED), 3:42:18; 4. Rigoberto Uran (COL), 3:42:57; 5. M.A. Lopez (COL), 3:42:57. Also in the top 50: 24. King (USA), 3:42:41.

Stage 20 (97.3 km) : 1. Enric Mas (ESP), 2:59:30; 2. M.A. Lopez (COL), 2:59:30; 3. S. Yates (GBR), 2:59:53; 4. Pinot (FRA), 3:00:24; 5. Uran (COL), 3:00:27. Also in the top 50: 47. Bookwalter (USA), 3:12:29.

Stage 21 (112.3 km): 1. Elia Viviani (ITA), 2:21:28; 2. Sagan (SVK), 2:21:28; 3. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA), 2:21:28; 4. Van Poppel (NED), 2:21:28; 5. Marc Sarreau (FRA), 2:21:28. Also in the top 50: 35. King (USA), 2:21:28.

Final Standings: 1. Simon Yates (GBR), 82:05:58; 2. Enric Mas (ESP), +1:46; 3. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL), +2:04; 4. Steven Kruijswijk (NED), +2:54; 5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), +4:28; 6. Thibaut Pinot (FRA), +5:57; 7. Rigoberto Uran (COL), +6:07; 8. Nairo Quintana (COL), +6:51; 9. Ion Izagirre (ESP), +11:09; 10. Wilco Keldermann (NED), +11:11. Also in the top 50: 24. Ben King (USA), +1:03:40.

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