Italy’s Fabio Aru sealed his first ever Grand Tour victory as Germany’s John Degenkolb finally claimed a stage win on the final day of Spain’s Vuelta on Sunday.
– Vuelta: Aru climbs to brink of victory on penultimate stage
– Vuelta: Gougeard wins 19th stage
– QUIZ: Your chance to win an AED1000 voucher
Aru just needed to get through the 98.8km parade through the streets of Madrid unscathed after building up a 1min 17sec lead over Joaquim Rodriguez on Saturday’s penultimate stage.
Rodriguez finished second to record his third podium finish in the Vuelta, but a puncture midway through the stage saw him lose out on the green points jersey to Spanish compatriot Alejandro Valverde.
Poland’s Rafal Majka finished third ahead of last year’s Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana in fourth.
“It is a dream, I am very emotional and proud,” Aru told reporters. “I’d like to thank my teammates. They believed in what was possible and I dedicate this victory to them, my family and my children.”
Aru trailed Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin by six seconds going into the penultimate stage. But, with the aid of his Astana teammates, Aru finally broke the Dutch rider’s resistance on the final two category one climbs of the race as Dumoulin slipped down to sixth.
Dumoulin’s Giant-Alpecin teammate Degenkolb won four stages at last year’s Vuelta, but had been frustrated in the few stages suited to the sprinters.
However, despite his efforts in helping Dumoulin over the past three weeks, he had enough in the tank to sprint to the line ahead of Dutch rider Danny van Poppel and Luxembourg’s Jean-Pierre Drucker.
Five months younger than Quintana, Aru is the youngest current Grand Tour champion. He’ll surely be eyeing leadership in Astana’s TDF team.
— Felix Lowe (@saddleblaze) September 13, 2015
“It really means a lot,” said Degenkolb. “For the whole team we had a big disappointment yesterday. The whole world saw that we were trying to defend this jersey and make it a superb success for the team.
“It is like going to zero to 100 emotionally and now we can go home with a positive feeling.
“We still had an awesome Vuelta to finish sixth in the general classification and winning three stages. For us it is a great Vuelta.”
Majka was another young rider to impress as he made the most of his opportunity to lead Tinkoff-Saxo in the absence of last year’s Vuelta winner Alberto Contador.
“After the Tour de France it is not easy to be the leader but I had the opportunity and I took it. “I hope to keep improving. First we have Alberto Contador, I need to still learn and maybe for the future continue to get better.”
LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather brought the curtain down on his undefeated career with a widely expected unanimous decision against the game but overmatched Andre Berto at the MGM Grand on Saturday.
But this is not the first time the pound-for-pound great has retired from the sport. Declan Taylor looks at what could be next for the pair.
Mayweather sunk to his knees in the middle of the ring and pointed to the sky at the final bell on Saturday – and later said ‘I did it because it’s the end’. Believe it or not, he might actually mean it. Of course it’s hard to believe that a man who has been a professional boxer for 19 years, with a lengthy amateur career before that, will now wake up and go about his business without the usual training but he says his love for competing in the sport is ebbing away. He will, however, still be heavily involved as he bids to find the ‘new Floyd’, as he puts it, with his Mayweather Promotions stable growing all the time.
Large swathes of the boxing media still fully expect Mayweather to come back one last time. This victory against Berto, during which he looked as good as he has at any time during the past decade, took him to 49-0 which is level with Rocky Marciano’s long-standing record. One more win will eclipse that and create the sort of milestone that nobody will ever reach again. It is hard to believe that a man so obsessed with being the best – he calls himself The Best Ever – will want to end his career tied with Marciano so one more win seems likely. Add to the fact that this whole fight week was low-key – and less than 14,000 turned up to watch it – and he might decide he wants to go out on a bigger high.
During his post-fight press conference, Mayweather revealed he has already been offered nine-figue sums to come back and fight again next year. We all know money is his motivation but the opportunity to win a world title in a sixth weight class might also tempt him back. He has won a belt in every division from the 130lb super-featherweight limit to the 154lb light-middleweight one. Miguel Cotto currently holds the WBC belt at middleweight (160lb) and he will defend it against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in November. Mayweather has already beaten both of them with relative ease and might fancy a rematch with the winner to add one final bauble to his mantelpiece.
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) September 13, 2015
Having lost three of his last six fights before this one, Berto was in danger of losing relevance in a talent-packed welterweight division. But his profile has been boosted by his involvement in this one and although he was handily out-pointed, Berto put up a good fight and is rarely in dull contests. With that in mind, the two-weight world champion could be in line for some more big fights.
The charismatic, big-punching Floridian currently holds the WBA welterweight title and would fancy his chances of beating Berto. This one could produce fireworks and they’re both advised by Al Haymon so it would be an easy one to make.
Having recently made the step up to welterweight by beating 34-year-old Paulie Malignaggi, undefeated Garcia is now hoping to make a statement by taking a major scalp in his new division. After this fight with Mayweather, a big win against Berto would certainly do that.
This fight could not happen at the moment because both Berto and Khan are currently under the tutelage of Virgil Hunter. However, there are rumours that Khan might be on the move once again and, if he is, a scrap with his friend and former stablemate Berto would be an easy sell and do good numbers.
Floyd Mayweather Senior reflects on his son's victory over Andre Berto, to equal Marciano's record of 49-0.