Time trial brings Vuelta a Espana to a close

Sun 14 Sep 2014

A final 9.7km time trial has brought the 2014 Vuelta a Espana to a close today, ORICA-GreenEDGE’s three weeks highlighted with a stage win and three days in the race leader’s red jersey.

New Zealand’s Sam Bewley was the team’s top finisher in the final race against the clock finishing in 13th position, 22seconds off the pace of winner Adriano Malori. Alberto Contador took out the overall victory.

In wrapping up the final grand tour of the 2014 season, sport director Neil Stephens identified Michael Matthews’ time in the red jersey as one of the surprising highlights.

“We came into the Vuelta a Espana with an objective of stage wins,” Stephens said.

“We got one stage win which is certainly more than other teams so we kicked a goal as far as that goes.

“I was shooting for the stars and wanted to try for a couple of stage wins and we came up a bit short of that but in saying that I never even considered taking the lead of the race and we did that for three days.

“To be able to lead the Tour of Italy and Tour of Spain in one year, following last year’s success at the Tour de France, that is really something special for the team.”

As a second goal for the Vuelta, ORICA-GreenEDGE also, for the first time, gave consideration to the general classification battle with young Colombian Esteban Chaves.  

In the first week of racing, Chaves performed over expectations mixing it on the early mountain stage with the world’s best climbers. Later in the tour, the 24-year-old’s lack of racing became apparent as the debutant tired.

“We always said after ten days or two weeks we would assess the situation with Chaves,” Stephens said.

“Chaves did two weeks of the general classification well but by the third week you really noticed the lack of racing he has had. 

“It was a really positive first couple of weeks that he could actually back up and get through pretty well and even in the last week when he was more just going through the motions, he was still able to help out his teammates.”

Further, it was the effort of the entire team that enabled the highlights, Stephens commending each of the riders and staff on their efforts.

“The Michael Matthews stage win was a fantastic team win,” Stephens said.

“Right from the start people knew we were the favourites of the day. To be able to assume that responsibility, work through one of the hardest days of the Vuelta and actually pull it off is something that even today people are congratulating us for our attitude.

“When you go through the guys, Brett Lancaster not only led out for Michael but also worked for Esteban on some days, Sam Bewley, Mitch Docker, Cameron Meyer with his assistance was great and Simon Clarke, it was one of the most solid Vueltas I have seen him do.

“Adam Yates, we had spoken about him and whether he was going to finish the race or if we were going to pull him out. He didn’t just finish, he finished well and actually contributed a lot to Esteban in some of the hillier days and to Michael Matthews with the chase on other days as well.

“When you go through each one of the them, each of them should be proud and again the staff have been fantastic hroughout this Tour of Spain.”