Hard fought 10th overall for Mitchelton-SCOTT at La VueltaSun 15 Sep 2019
The 2019 La Vuelta a Espana wrapped up with the traditional circuit race in Madrid this evening, as Mitchelton-SCOTT finished with a top-10 overall after a challenging three weeks of racing for the team.
Drawing on its ability to bounce back, the Australian outfit overcame ill-timed mechanicals as well as serious crashes to keep focus and ride Mikel Nieve into 10thplace, whilst theteam continued its aggressive approach right to the final day of racing today.
Final stage in Madrid:
As the peloton rode towards Madrid, the traditional celebrations unfolded for overall winner Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) and those who join him on the podium.
As they hit the finishing circuit, the racing in earnest began immediately as attacks sprung from the front, including an attempt from Damien Howson.
Despite the various attempts, the race was back together for the final sprint, with Mitchelton-SCOTT positioning Dion Smith for an eventual 10th place behind stage winner Fabio Jackobsen (Deceuninck Quickstep).
After a strong performance on yesterday’s final mountain stage, 35-year-old Mikel Nieve rode himself into the top-10 at La Vuelta for the fourth time in his career (8th2015, 10th2011, 10th2010).
Originally lining up as a key support rider in the mountains, the Basque rider remained consistent throughout the numerous adversities throughout the race to achieve the team’s main objective for the Grand Tour.
In a spate of ill fortune, mechanicals hit team leader Esteban Chaves at the worst moments – on the crucial La Gallina climb in Andorra and on Los Muchacos – and saw the Colombian concede time and take him out of contention for his own top-10 performance.
Chaves was also involved in a crash in the final kilometre of stage 14, a nasty incident that ended the race for stage hope Luka Mezgec, who was in career best form.
Despite the misfortunate, the team continued to rally, present in the breakaway on the majority of remaining stages and supporting Nieve to his top-10 performance.
Dion Smith – 10th on final stage:
“It was nice to finish this with tenth place today and for the team it was also good that Nieve stayed out of trouble and stayed 10th overall.
“I tried to give myself an opportunity in the final and put myself in a good position and just move up all the way to the line.”
“It has been cool to experience a Grand Tour on a bigger team and a team where you know every day there was an opportunity for at least one of us to get a result and that was really motivating for me.
“Although we had some really bad luck it was not from a lack of trying and I think as a team we can be proud of all our efforts and the way we moved forward from those low points.”
Mikel Nieve – 10th overall:
“Personally in this Vuelta I've had some up and downs. In the first week I started pretty good with a good sensations, I was up there... But during the second week I had a couple of bad days and I came down a bit. Then again in the third week I started feeling better and better and to finish in the top 10 was good.
“I would have preferred to fight for a stage win and I tried hard but some days I lacked some luck to get in the break.
“For the team, it wasn't the Vuelta that we expected but I think that everyone we gave all that we had. We had really bad luck with Esteban in the key moments of the race and of course the crash of Luka was a big lost for us.
“Despite all of that I think that we had a good presence every day in the breaks and we tried to do our best every day.”
Julian Dean – Sport Director:
“You can measure success in different ways; in the work that’s put in and the outcomes that come from that.
“In terms of work put in, from riders and the staff, it was as good as ever at this Vuelta.
“In terms of outcomes from that work, it was perhaps not what we were hoping for. But, we finished with a top-10 overall, not in the way we imagined, but it’s still testament to the work that was put in, and the spirit of this team that we continued to be active in the race and fight for that final overall position.”