Simon Yates has this evening been confirmed as the winner of the 73rd edition of the Vuelta a Espana. His victory completes a unique treble for British cyclists, with no other nation having ever produced three different winners of cycling’s three Grand Tours since the Spanish race made its debut in 1935.
Today’s processional 112.3-kilometre stage from Alcorcon to Madrid was won by Quick Step Floors rider Elia Viviani, with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan second and Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo third – and identical result to Stage 10 of the race.
Besides topping the General Classification, Yates also won the combination jersey, and with the race’s conclusion, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde is confirmed as the points classification winner for a record equalling fourth time, joining Laurent Jalabert and Sean Kelly, while Thomas De Gendt of Lotto-Soudal has won the mountains classification.
Yates, who in May led the Giro d’Italia for a fortnight before the maglia rosa was wrested from him by eventual winner Chris Froome on Stage 19, initially took the lead of the Spanish race after the Stage 9 summit finish at La Covatilla.
He surrendered it three days later to the Cofidis rider Jesus Herrada, but was back in the red jersey within 48 hours as he won Stage 14 at Les Praeres de Nava.
When he began the final week of the Giro d’Italia at the top of the overall standings, many wondered how he would respond to the pressure of leading a Grand Tour as it entered its third and final week.
Four months ago, he was found wanting, but that disappointment has proved invaluable during the past week as the 26-year-old from Bury first kept his closest challenger, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, at bay, then established a decisive lead over the past two days in Andorra.
It’s also the first Grand Tour overall victory for the Australian UCI WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott, which Yates – alongside his twin brother Adam, whom he described as his “secret weapon” coming into the final week of the Vuelta – joined in 2014.
His Vuelta victory follows Froome’s win in Italy and Geraint Thomas’s triumph at the Tour de France, which as mentioned earlier marks a unique achievement for Britain’s cyclists.
However, unlike the two Team Sky riders, Yates was singled out as a future Grand Tour contender early in his career when, at the age of 19, he took a stage win in the Alps at the under-23 race the Tour de l’Avenir.
Among the riders that Yates, racing for Great Britain, beat that day were a number of older riders who have gone on to become major names in the sport, including future Grand Tour winners Tom Dumoulin and Nairo Qiuintana.
This evening, he takes his place alongside them as the winner of the 73rd edition of the Vuelta.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.