RIDER REACTION: 2019 La Vuelta a Espana

Sun 15 Sep 2019

As the final Grand Tour of the season came to a close today, we spoke to each of our finishing riders to get their thoughts on the past three weeks of racing.

Sam Bewley:
“It’s been a really tough Vuelta this year, one of the hardest Grand Tours I’ve done. There was something to contend with every single day whether it was the profile of the stages or some of the conditions we had on particular days.

“We had a lot of bad luck in the first half of the race and loosing Mezza was obviously a big low point of the race for us. 

“We didn’t manage to win here but the most important takeaway for us was the attitude we showed throughout. Every stage we raced with motivation and intent and the mood in the team never dipped. We always have fun together even when things aren’t going our way and that’s why we are able to treat every day as new day and another opportunity.

“We can be proud of how we raced, even without getting a stage win but this is the highest level of the sport and they don’t come easy. Mikel ending the race in the top-10 overall is a testament to the attitude we showed here.”

Esteban Chaves:
“It's always is special feeling when you finish a Grand Tour. This time is no different, of course we arrive with big expectations, but we had lot of bad luck with crashes, broken bikes etc. 

“It was awesome to see how stage by stage we didn’t lost the faith and we kept trying and giving our 100%. For the team, we did everything right just we played with difficult cards this time and we did the best we could.

“I'm happy to finish with Mikel in the top-10, to finish another Grand Tour with my friends. From sport directors until the guys who did the hotels, everyone was an important part of the team.”

Tsgabu Grmay:
“It was a good Vuelta for me. I came here with good form, I believe. It was a hard race for sure, for everyone, but the mentality I had was good in trying to make a result and to help our GC guys.

“I also had a lot of fun with my teammates and these kind of things also make it a great Vuelta. 

“The motivation was there, everyone was trying, everyone was helping each other and given 110%.  A little bit of luck was not with us I believe, but we continued to keep trying and in the end Nieve finished in the top-10 which was really great and I think the team is really happy with how we were always fighting.”

Damien Howson:
“Every Grand Tour has its own story. The way it unfolds always includes aspects that are out of our control and obviously this Grand Tour we had a fair bit of bad luck fall our way with mechanical issues and also the crash of Luka, who had targeted a lot of stages in the back end of the race and we were never able to see how that would eventuate. 

“It was a very tough Grand Tour, raced really aggressively. We worked well as a unit, we went through the process correctly and gave it our best so from my perspective, I don’t think you can ask any more of us as athletes. 

“I’m proud of the way I personally performed here. I came in with great shape and I was able to deliver to all of my expectations.

Mikel Nieve:
“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.”

Nick Schultz:
“Overall, it's been an amazing experience. Being a part of a team like this makes racing a Grand Tour more special.

“We had some bad luck throughout, but we kept fighting and kept a high morale within the group.

“For me personally, it was my third Vuelta, but my first with Mitchelton-SCOTT and my first with a specific and collective goal. I learnt a great deal being around the experienced riders in the team and I think it will really help going forward. It was certainly on the tougher side of racing so I am happy to have gotten through it.

“A mention to Luka Mezgec. It was really unlucky for him to exit the race in the way he did. His positivity since, has been really good and I think it highlights how tough this sport can be. We rolled into Madrid today and we wish he was alongside us.”

Dion Smith:
“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.”