Simon Yates said it is “finally sinking in” that he is set to complete a British grand slam of Grand Tours in 2018 after extending his lead in the penultimate stage of La Vuelta.
The Bury racer finished third in Andorra on Saturday, and heads into Sunday’s largely processional final stage into Madrid with a one minute and 46 seconds advantage over the 20th stage winner, Enric Mas.
When it is completed, the Mitchelton-Scott rider will join Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in a British threesome holding all three of the sport’s major tour titles at the same time, with Thomas having added the Tour de France to Froome’s Giro d’Italia.
Yates told his team’s official website: “Finally. I think it’s still sinking in. I’m incredibly proud, of the team also. They have carried me through this entire three weeks. It’s the first Grand Tour for the team and it’s just unbelievable.
“On the last climb I was OK. I was really at my limit and. I just tried to ride to my own rhythm and thankfully it was enough.
“I feel much better now that we have finished. It was a really crazy day. I have got to thank my team because everybody really stepped up, even the big guys who you didn’t expect to be there on the climbs.”
The decisive move which all but won Yates the title occurred 17km from the finish, when he launched a break to reel in the leading pair of Mas and Nairo Quintana.
Yates’ nearest rival Ernesto Valverde, who started the day one minute and 28 seconds adrift, could not match the Briton and fell away, eventually finishing three minutes behind his rival and down in fifth place overall.
As Quintana dropped back in a vain bid to coax something more from his ailing Movistar rival, Mas and Lopez went clear to contest the stage in a sprint finish, with Yates happy to remain alone in third.
Yates would eventually finish 23 seconds behind the top two, with Mas (Quick-Step Floors) just edging his Astana rival on the line.
His win helped lift Mas to second place in the standings – but not close enough to challenge Yates.
UAE champion Yousif Mirza will mark his return to UAE Team Emirates for the upcoming Italian one-day races — the Coppa Agostoni and the Coppa Bernocchi.
Joining Mirza after his participation at last month’s Asian Games in Jakarta will be a number of fresh faces making their team debuts including Alessandro Covi, Nicolas Tivani and Andrea Bagioli.
Covi and Bagioli will pull on the UAE Team Emirates colours for the first time at the Coppa Agostoni, while Tivani will make his debut at the Coppa Bernocchi on Monday.
Completing the line-ups for the two races will be the Kristijan Durasek, Oliviero Troia, Filippo Ganna and Matteo Bono.
Commenting ahead of the race, Marzano said: “The Coppa Agostoni and the Coppa Bernocchi are two challenging races in which all our riders will get the chance to improve their physical form.
“Since we are without a single captain, we will have to race competitively, being careful to look out for breaks or for possible moves to make in the final parts of the race.
“With their experience, Bono and Durasek will have to manage Ganna and Troia, as well as guiding the trainees Bagioli, Covi and Tivani.”
UAE Cycling Federation’s Dubai Eye 103.8 UAE Road Cycling Championship returns for the 2018/2019 season.
Boasting four stages, the series will commence on Friday October 12 with the first of two challenging climbing stages – the 77-kilometre Kalba Hills stage.
“The most direct feedback from we had from competitors of the inaugural series in January and March this year was to make the stages more challenging and interesting. We’re excited to be announcing this season to have increased the stages from two to four, and also to include three recognised disciplines of road cycling being; climbing, time trialing and sprinting, throughout the four stages, which will test the cyclist and crown the best overall athlete as champions in each category,” said Jeff O’Brien, Managing Partner Onside Sports and UAE Road Cycling Championship organiser.
Stage 2 will be a 23-kilometre Individual Time Trial held at Meeras’s ‘The Outlet Village’ (Jebel Ali) on October 26, followed by the second grueling climbing stage, a 70-kilometer ascent of the formidable Jebel Jais mountain, the UAE’s highest mountain, in Ras Al Khaimah. The 2018/2019 edition’s champions will then be decided at the fourth and final stage, a 95-kilometer flat stage starting and finishing at Dubai Sports City’s Rugby Park, which will create an exciting sprint finish for the title. The 2018-19 champions will be crowned at Dubai Sports City, after the conclusion of Stage 4, which will see them take both their accolade and their ‘Champion Jersey’ through to the 2019/2020 series.
“We were very encouraged with the response to UAE Road Cycling Championship’s Inaugural race, and, after reviewing what is a very busy annual calendar for the Federation, we are exceptionally pleased to secure these dates and bring the second series to the UAE’s burgeoning cycling community.” said Abdulnasser Omran Al Shamsi , UAE Cycling Federation Secretary General.
“It is vitally important for the Federation to continue to provide the amateur cycling community opportunities to compete in professionally managed events, and be recognised for their achievements. We are very grateful to the Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai authorities for their continued support and commitment to our sport, and making it safe for all.”
Open to all competent amateur cyclists, the race’s main categories are; Emirati Men, Emirati Women, Expatriate Men and Expatriate Women. Each stage will see a stage-winner, as well as stage age division-winners recognised.
Registrations are now open via www.premieronline.com and more information can be found on www.uaecycf.com.