Ag2r Citroën Team, 6/10
What had been a pretty anonymous showing from the French squad at the Vuelta a España limited to occasional appearances in the breakaways became a successful one on stage 20, when Clement Champoussin snuck away from the GC favourites to take an all-important stage win.
For the third Grand Tour this season, Alpecin-Fenix won the first bunch sprint, courtesy this time of Jasper Philipsen. Things quietened down after his abandonment in the second week, but, by winning a second sprint in Albacete prior to that, Philipsen ensured this was another resounding success for the wildcard invite.
Astana-Premier Tech, 7/10
Things got off to an encouraging start when Alex Aranburu finished second with a brilliant opening time trial. But when Alexander Vlasov's GC bid fizzled out, after Aranburu's attempts at getting into the red jersey had failed, the team looked short on ideas of how to get anything out of the race.
Bahrain Victorious, 8/10
Just as Damiano Caruso rescued the team's Giro d'Italia by finishing on the podium after Mikel Landa crashed out, Jack Haig emerged from an off-form Landa to finish third. That the team helped put Haig there with some excellent teamwork from Gino Mäder, who himself finished fifth overall, and that Caruso was also given the freedom to take a stage win atop Alto De Velefique, shows the superb strength-in-depth Bahrain Victorious have right now.
Team BikeExchange, 3/10
Try as they might, BikeExchange could not get Michael Matthews a stage victory. On several occasions over the three weeks, they took to the front of the peloton to try and engineer a reduced bunch sprint for him to win, but he never bettered his third-place finish from the first bunch sprint.
Felix Großschartner was just eight seconds away from making this Vuelta a success for Bora-Hansgrohe, when he missed out on taking the red jersey by that slender margin on stage seven. He remained high enough on GC to make the final top 10, while Jordi Meeus sprinted for second at Santa Cruz de Bezana, but Bora just fell short of having something to bring home with them.
Apart from a couple of frustrating days during the second week when they were conspicuous by their absence, Burgos-BH did their duty and animated the breaks. Jetse Bol was especially eye-catching with his aggressive racing.
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, 6/10
Like any good wildcard team, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA were regular presences in the breaks, but their priority was helping Jon Aberasturi in the bunch sprints. Three sixth-place finishes was a decent return.
As late as the end of the second week, Guillaume Martin remained up in second on GC, a result that would have been an exceptional return for a low-budget team like Cofidis. His eventual finish of ninth was still handy, while Jesus Herrada and Piet Allegaert also contributed, the former with second at Pico Villuercas and the latter with a few top sixes in the sprints.
Yet again, Deceuninck-Quick-Step were the best team in the sprints, with Fabio Jakobsen taking three wins plus the green jersey, and Florian Sénéchal stepping on a stage where their lead-out was so fast that even Jakobsen was dropped. That four-stage haul could have been even bigger, with Andrea Bagioli and Mauro Vansevenant both coming close to their own stage wins.
Team DSM, 9/10
This was a resounding return to form for a team that has had issues lately. Michael Storer got the ball rolling by winning at Balcon de Alicante, then doubled-up with another breakaway win a few days later, before Romain Bardet made it three stage wins at Pico Villuercas. Add to that Storer winning the mountains classification, and DSM were kings of the breakaways.
EF Education-Nippo, 8/10
Hugh Carthy's first week withdrawal was quickly forgotten thanks to the sensational form of Magnus Cort. The Dane pulled-off a rare hat-trick, winning a stage on an uphill finish, in a sprint, and from a breakaway, and wowed everyone with his constant attacking and amazing resilience.
The Basque team's vigilance at getting into breakaways was nearly rewarded on the final road stage of the race, when Mikel Bizkarra almost managed to sneak away to ride for what would have been a hugely valuable stage win. But he didn't quite have the legs, and the team came home winless.
The team was built around Arnaud Démare, and persisted in leading him out for the bunch sprints. But, aside from one second-place finish at Molina de Aragon, the Frenchman failed to get involved in them, and the rest of the squad failed to get any joy from getting into breakaways.
Ineos Grenadiers, 4/10
Considering the roster of stars Ineos Grenadiers brought to the Vuelta, an eventual fourth-place finish on GC for Adam Yates and sixth for Egan Bernal is underwhelming. The team were admirably aggressive in their attempts to improve their positions during the final week, but managed neither a podium nor a stage win.
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, 8/10
They say lightning doesn't strike twice, but Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert might beg to differ after they managed to bag themselves the red jersey not once but twice, first with Rein Taaramäe after his stage win at Pico Blanco, and then again a week later with Odd Christian Eiking. The latter stint was considerably longer, with Eiking holding on until stage s17 after his team defended the jersey admirably, and he was unlucky not to ultimately take a top 10 finish.
Israel Start-Up Nation, 1/10
With an under-strength team, Israel Start-Up Nation struggled to get involved. It didn't help that over half of their roster abandoned, but those who remained in the race were unable even to get into many breakaways.
From start to finish, Jumbo-Visma looked in total control of the race. They could set a fast pace on the climbs whenever Primož Roglič wanted, had the self-assurance to give the red jersey whenever they felt necessary, and managed to keep Sepp Kuss high on GC as a useful card to play. It was all about Primož Roglič, though, and he produced arguably his most dominant performance yet to win four stages and the red jersey by a whopping 4-42.
Without Caleb Ewan, who had been scheduled to ride but did not recover in time from his Tour de France crash, Lotto-Soudal looked without a plan. There were attempts to win from breakaways, but only Andreas Kron came anywhere near doing so.
For 19 stages, Movistar rode a virtually flawless, albeit pretty defensive, race. Miguel Ángel López's dramatic collapse on stage 20 meant they only placed one rider, Enric Mas, on the podium rather than two, which they had looked on the verge of doing. Hopefully López remembers his race for his brilliant win on Alto de Gamoniteiro rather than the way it ended.
Racing in challenging circumstances, after it emerged that the sponsors are struggling to pay the staff and riders, Qhubeka-NextHash rode a subdued race. Fabio Aru looked more like his old self at the start of what is to be his racing swansong, but faded as the race went on and looks ready for retirement.
Like at the Giro d'Italia, Giulio Ciccone was set to challenge for a high GC finish, before crashing out of the race on stage 16. Kenny Elissonde took the red jersey after stage five, but only defended it for a day, leaving Trek-Segafredo little to shout about.
UAE Team Emirates, 6/10
One of the Vuelta's most lively teams, UAE Team Emirates spent much of the Vuelta trying to bag a stage win, whether by setting a fierce pace to drop Matteo Trentin's sprinting rivals in undulating terrain, leading out Juan Sebastián Milano in the bunch sprints, or through the likes of Rui Oliveira and Ryan Gibbons in breakaways. They got the one they wanted at El Barraco thanks to Rafał Majka, while David de la Cruz worked his way up the overall classification to finish seventh.
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