By Gregor Brown published
Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) is pleased to be racing his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España, but says that he did not come to Spain simply to make up the numbers. That showed on stage four when he attacked and rode free in the summit finish stage to San Andrés de Teixido.
The 26-year-old Yorkshireman escaped, his first time to do so in a Grand Tour, with team-mate Cesare Benedetti and 19 others. They succeeded through the northwest costal region of Galicia; Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) won the stage, Darwin Atapuma (BMC) took the leader's jersey and Benedetti placed tenth. Thwaites too held off the Chris Froome (Sky) group to place 17th.
"I didn't just want to come here and make up the numbers at the back of the group," Thwaites told Cycling Weekly. "I wanted to have a go in some of the days.
"You just got to escape when you can. It was a big fight from the start with the other riders trying to get away. I was just happy that I was able to make it."
He made it with some of cycling's stars including Atapuma, who wears the red jersey today at the start in Viveiro, Stelvio and Ventoux winner Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step).
In Thwaites's favour, he had Benedetti to talk with and ask questions as the day progressed over the three category climbs. He needed some advice because prior to the Vuelta, the longest race he rode was the 13-day Tour of Qinghai Lake
"It was a positive day for me," he said. "That's what I came here to do, to try to make it a breakaway that would go to the finish. That's what I want to do, it's just unfortunate that the day ended the way it did, but I was in a group with many climbers. I helped my team-mate who finished 10th."
He will continue to try to make the escapes, maybe not right away today, but in the coming 16 stages.
"The big thing is that there are more riders in a grand tour, every team has nine riders so you get many guys going for the breaks. Perhaps the breaks are a lot bigger than the other smaller races," he added, "Maybe in a few weeks time I'll have a different opinion of this race when I have a lot more racing in my legs, but the moment I'm enjoying it."
Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.