So there we have it, the final Grand Tour of the season has been and gone.
It had more than its fair share of controversy throughout the three weeks of action although the final week was all about the race for the title.
Heading into that final week, any one of three or even four riders were realistically in contention but it was Italian climber Fabio Aru that took his first Grand Tour win adding his name to an esteemed list of riders that include the likes of Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde.
It has been a quick rise to fame for the Sardinian born rider nicknamed ‘The Little Angel’. The 25 year old joined his current team Astana in 2012 after four years with the Palazzago domestic team in his home country. This was his fifth Grand Tour appearance having taken part in La Vuelta 2014, finishing 5th, as well as the Giro for the past three years. His first appearance in the Giro saw him finish in 42nd place but improved dramatically to 3rd in 2014 and 2nd earlier on this year.
In the end the win looked convincing for Aru in the final standings as he finished 57 seconds ahead of Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez, himself looking for his first title in his home tour although he can console himself with the white combined jersey. Polish rider Rafal Majka from Tinkoff-Saxo completed the podium with a 3rd place finish but it was a disappointing end to the tour for the impressive Dutchman Tom Dumoulin who faded in the last few days.
The final showpiece stage ending in the capital city of Madrid was won by German John Degenkolb taking his La Vuelta stage wins to ten.
While Aru claimed the red individual jersey, Valverde took the green sprinters jersey, Omar Fraile finished with the polka-dot climbers jersey while the team competition was won by Movistar who finished ahead of Team Sky.
This race is likely to have a lasting effect on cycling as there is potential for the UCI to review some of the rules. The first will be the ‘sticky bottle’ incident that saw Nibali excluded from the race but the bigger issue is around the motorbikes and some of reckless riding that took down a couple of riders. We will see what decisions are made ahead of 2016, if any.
For me, this race will always be remembered by the hilarious sight of Nibali speeding up the road next to his support car. It was a decision that ended his race and he really should have known better in his capacity as a rider.
Twelve days after his crash, Belgian Kris Boeckmans is out of an induced coma after suffering a multitude of injuries. A press release by his team Lotto-Soudal confirmed that the rider will be taken to a Belgian hospital to continue his recovery. He is now able to talk to his family and doctors.
That is pretty much it from the 2015 cycling calendar apart from a few one day races. The first big tour of 2016 will be in Australia towards the end of January.
Here are the top ten riders from the 2015 La Vuelta.
|1.||ITA ARU Fabio||ASTANA PRO TEAM||85h 36′ 13”|
|2.||ESP RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin||TEAM KATUSHA||85h 37′ 10”||+ 00′ 57”|
|3.||POL MAJKA Rafal||TINKOFF – SAXO||85h 37′ 22”||+ 01′ 09”|
|4.||COL QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||MOVISTAR TEAM||85h 37′ 55”||+ 01′ 42”|
|5.||COL CHAVES RUBIO Johan Esteban||ORICA GreenEDGE||85h 39′ 23”||+ 03′ 10”|
|6.||NED DUMOULIN Tom||TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN||85h 39′ 59”||+ 03′ 46”|
|7.||ESP VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro||MOVISTAR TEAM||85h 43′ 00”||+ 06′ 47”|
|8.||ESP NIEVE ITURRALDE Mikel||TEAM SKY||85h 43′ 19”||+ 07′ 06”|
|9.||ESP MORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel||TEAM KATUSHA||85h 43′ 25”||+ 07′ 12”|
|10.||RSA MEINTJES Louis||MTN – QHUBEKA||85h 46′ 39”||+ 10′ 26”|