Britain’s dominance in world cycling reached a new peak as Simon Yates won the Vuelta a Espana to give British riders a clean sweep of this year’s Grand Tours.
Yates safely crossed the finishing line in Madrid to notch his first Grand Tour win.
He joins Chris Froome, winner of the Giro d’Italia and Geraint Thomas, who came home first in the Tour de France, in the annals of cycling history.
British riders have won nine of the last 20 Grand Tours, starting with the legendary Sir Bradley Wiggins who took the Tour de France as the first British rider to win one of the trio of top championships in 2012.
Add to that a heap of gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games for a cavalcade of British men and women cyclists and it’s easy to see why foreign riders are bamboozled by the nation’s success story.
Glory with controversy
The glory has not come without controversy.
Yates was banned for four months for failing a drugs test in 2016, while Froome was scrutinised by world cycling administrators for having more than the allowed level of an asthma drug. The case was dropped without charge.
Wiggins was also embroiled in a doping row that ended with no action.
Although riders from the same country have notched all three Grand Tours in the same year twice before, this is the first time a country has done so with three different riders.
The statistic underlines the depth, experience and athleticism of the British cycling squad.
Perfect year for British riders
And as Froome won the French and Spanish Grand Tours last year, no foreign rider has had a look in for five championships.
“It’s astonishing really,” Yates said. “Growing up I was so accustomed to seeing the French, Italian and Spanish riders lead the way, so for myself, Chris and Geraint to all win a Grand Tour in the same year just shows how far the sport has come in this country.”
Froome said it was the “perfect year for British riders“.
He added: “Simon has looked so strong over the last three weeks and it’s great to see him take home the maillot rojo.”