Team Sky completed the Vuelta a Espana in Madrid following 21 hard-fought days of racing.

The Spanish Grand Tour concluded in the capital, with David de la Cruz crossing the line as Team Sky’s best-placed rider in 15th.
Following on from Chris Froome’s victory last season, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) wrapped up a popular victory, becoming only the second Brit ever to win the Spanish Grand Tour, and in doing so ensured British riders completed a clean sweep of 2018’s Grand Tours, following Froome victory at the Giro d’Italia and Geraint Thomas’ Tour de France win.
Team Sky started the race on the front foot with a pair of second places elevating Michal Kwiatkowski into the red jersey. The Pole led the race for three days in the opening week and climbed impressively on the early summits.
Kwiatkowski was among a number of riders to be involved in crashes during the race, with stage seven seeing him go down whilst lying second overall. Two days later Pavel Sivakov took a nasty tumble, with injuries gradually taking a toll on the Russian, forcing his abandonment. Despite that Sivakov enjoyed a strong Grand Tour debut and gained valuable experience for the future.
In the second week Kwiatkowski and David de la Cruz gradually began to slip back on the general classification, with attention turning to breakaways in a bid to secure a stage victory. Tao Geoghegan Hart (impressive on his Grand Tour debut), Sergio Henao, Jonathan Castroviejo, Dylan van Baarle, Kwiatkowski and De La Cruz all launched bids for stage wins during the final two weeks.
Van Baarle came closest on stage 12, narrowly edged out into second place after a day-long break. Sadly the Dutchman was caught up in a crash following the finish, with pain stemming from a fractured pelvis making it impossible to continue. As a result Team Sky crossed the line with six riders in Madrid, with Salvatore Puccio rounding out the team with another typically solid performance across the three weeks.

Xabier Zandio

Xabier Zandio

The guys worked hard and we were close on quite a few occasions. It would have been nice to take a stage victory here but that is cycling and we take away some good experiences.
Sport Director Xabier Zandio summed up a race of highs and lows. He told “We started the race very well with Kwiato finishing second in the opening TT and the first uphill finish to take the jersey. We worked at the front well defending the jersey in that first part of the race. Then in the next part we started to encounter a bit of bad luck with the crashes. The team started to struggle a bit as a result and we began to lose time on the GC with Kwiato and David. Then it was about trying to target stage victories. It was a new way to ride for us this year and we kept the focus throughout.
“The guys worked hard and we were close on quite a few occasions. It would have been nice to take a stage victory here but that is cycling and we take away some good experiences. It was good to see Tao and Pavel get their first taste of a Grand Tour. They learned a lot, how hard the level is and how to manage yourself across a three-week race. They did a lot of good work for the team and it’s a good step forwards for the future.
“In the last few days it’s not been easy but all the riders gave a really high level of effort right until the end. They were very professional and we’re very proud of all of them. They were fighting until the last day.”

As expected the final stage came down to a bunch kick, with Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) out-sprinting his rivals to take the victory.

General Classification:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 79:44:30
2. Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) +1'46''
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +2'04''
4. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2'54''
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +4'28''
15. David de la Cruz (Team Sky) +27’38”

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