Unlike the Sky-dominated Tour de France, the Vuelta a España didn’t really have a single squad commanding the race. Once again, it was Movistar who walked away with the team classification, albeit at the end of a race again characterised by disappointing performances by their GC men.
So who was the team of the Vuelta? We took the best of the best from the final Grand Tour of 2018 to construct our fantasy roster from Spain.
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Unmatched from start to finish, Yates looked comfortable and largely untroubled at the top for the entirety of the race. Shorn of the need to constantly attack and gain time, it was a more restrained performance than we saw at the Giro, with no sign of the breakdown that ended his contention in May.
Not bad for his second Grand Tour, eh? The 23-year-old Spaniard finished second overall after winning the final mountain stage of the Vuelta in Andorra, astounding even the most optimistic predictions for a rider who has been dubbed ‘the next Contador’ by some.
Dimension Data had endured a woeful year, with no WorldTour wins until the Virginian popped up in Spain. King’s career-best performance was one of the surprises of the Vuelta, beating the likes of Bauke Mollema, Nikita Stalnov and Pierre Rolland to triumph twice from the break on two early mountain stages.
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There would be no repeat of 2017’s seventh place for the Canadian, with Woods’ GC bid never getting off the ground. However, his emotional stage win on the horrendously steep slopes of the Balcón de Bizkaia was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the race.
The Frenchman took a stage win at Pozo Alcón, attacking 3km from the finish to hold off the sprinters and grab his second career Grand Tour stage win. Gallopin ended up a career-best 11th overall too, only dropping from the top ten on the penultimate stage in Andorra.
A rider who has really come into his own in the last two seasons, Teuns was unlucky to leave the Vuelta without a stage win. In perhaps his final race for BMC, the Belgian was very consistent, taking a second, two third-places, a fourth and a fifth.
For several years a loyal lieutenant for Mitchelton-Scott’s GC men, the Yates brothers and Esteban Chaves, Haig finally got the ultimate reward for all his hard work. The Australian has been one of the standout domestiques in the peloton in recent seasons, and this Vuelta was no different in that regard.
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Three stage wins cap a remarkable season for the Italian – his 19 wins this year mean 2018 is by far his best season yet. Seven Grand Tour stages, the Giro points jersey, the Italian championships and two semi-classics are highlights, while he also grabbed European team pursuit gold on the track.
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