Vuelta success brings Yates success, while Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten is best woman
The UCI’s WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour finished in the rain of Guangxi on Sunday, with the series winners formally announced at the annual gala after the race.
Though he was not present to collect the award, Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates became the first British rider to win the season long series.
Fresh from winning her second consecutive world time trial championship, Annemiek van Vleuten was victorious in the women’s series, though she was also absent.
Both Yates and van Vleuten had led their respective classifications for some weeks, though neither men’s or women’s series were foregone conclusions until September.
Yates took over the lead of the 37 race series from Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) only after the Lancashire born rider bagged his maiden Grand Tour victory at the Vuelta a España.
Ably supported by twin brother Adam, Yates won stage 14 between Cisterna and Les Praeres before winning the overall by 1-46 ahead of Quick-Step Floors’ young Spanish rider Enric Mas.
Yates had seemed on course to win the Giro d’Italia in May, a steady performance in the opening stage time trial, finishing seventh behind 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin, (Sunweb) setting up his race. Through the following weeks he ride increasingly aggressively, regularly attacking his rivals and eventually winning three stages.
However, when Chris Froome (Team Sky) launched his remarkable stage 19 escape to overall victory, 26 year-old Yates capitulated, losing nearly 39 minutes and eventually finishing 21st. It was, perhaps this which brought a slightly more circumspect approach in Spain, an approach which clearly paid off, making him the third Brit to win a Grand Tour this year.
Placing second at Paris-Nice and the Tour of Poland were other notable results which helped make Yates the first British rider to win the WorldTour individual classification since its 2009 inception.
However, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) topped the UCI’s World Ranking table ahead of Yates, with the World Ranking including points from races outside of the WorldTour calendar.
Also riding for Mitchelton-Scott, van Vleuten became the first non-Boels-Dolmans rider to win the Women’s WorldTour in its three year history. After a consistent spring, she based her success on a dominant summer during which she won the ten day Giro Rosa.
Two days later in the Alps, she won a thrilling edition of La Course, pipping 2017 WorldTour winner Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) in the final 30 metres.
Now 36, Van Vleuten only took control at the top of the classification only at the start of September, winning the Boels Ladies Tour, the 22nd of the 24 race series. The Dutch dominated the competition, with van Vleuten, Marianne Vos (Waowdeals), van der Breggen and team-mate Amy Pieters four of only six riders to wear the purple series leader’s jersey.
The women’s team classification was won for the third consecutive year by Boels-Dolmans, while promising Italian Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana) was the best young rider.
After their hugely successful season, Quick-Step Floors were predictably the top men’s team.