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Vuelta champion also led Giro d'Italia for a fortnight earlier this season...

Simon Yates has been confirmed as the top rider in the UCI WorldTour Classification for 2018, a year in which he led the Giro d’Italia for a fortnight before going on to take his first Grand Tour overall win at the Vuelta.

Meanwhile, the UCI Women’s WorldTour Classification has been won by another Mitchelton-Scott rider, Annemiek van Vleuten.

The pair were recognised at the UCI Gala Awards in China today, held after the conclusion of the final races on the men’s and women’s calendars, the Tour of Guangxi.

Yates is one of two British cyclists in the top five of the men’s ranking, the other being Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who was in fourth place.

They were joined by three riders who have each tipped the classification in the past – Peter Sagan, who was 80 points adrift of Yates in second place, reigning road world champion Alejandro Valverde in third, and last year’s winner, Greg van Avermaet, who was fifth this time around.

Yates, aged 26, is the first British rider to finish the season at the head of the UCI WorldTour Classification since it was introduced in 2009, with Sir Bradley Wiggins runner-up in 2012, as was Froome the following year and again in 2017.

 Yates said: “After a week or so off the bike to reflect, it’s been an amazing year and one I will always remember. The results have been special but also results that I feel I have been working towards and getting closer to every year since becoming a professional and to finish at the top of the WorldTour rankings just tops it off.

“Of course, the Vuelta is the highlight as my first Grand Tour victory, and how we pulled together as a team to get everything right for that month of racing was incredible. But, despite the disappointment in the final days, I also look back at the Giro with a lot of pride of how we raced and what we achieved there.”

He added: “I like to race on my instinct, I think that’s what works best for me and what fans want to see, and I hope that I continue to do so and achieve more big results in the coming years.”

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.