Cyclist Simon Yates has won the Vuelta a Espana, meaning all three major Grand Tours are now held by British riders.
He built up an unassailable lead going into Sunday’s largely ceremonial stage to Madrid and crossed the line safely at the front of the peleton to seal his first Grand Tour victory.
Tributes to Yates and his historic achievement flooded in as he took to the podium in the red jersey of La Vuelta.
Back home there were also calls on Twitter to give Yates the freedom of his hometown of Bury.
Victory for the Mitchelton-Scott rider followed success for Chris Froome at the Giro d’Italia and for Geraint Thomas at the Tour de France to complete an unforgettable year for British cycling.
Yates’ team said on Twitter they ‘had a plan’ and praised the 26-year-old for sticking to it with what they called ‘conservative flair’.
Mitchelton-Scott also praised Yates’ twin Adam, saying he was ‘critical’ to his brother’s success.
Team GB meanwhile hailed an ‘incredible year’ for Great Britain on the Grand Tour.
Elia Viviani out-sprinted Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to win stage 21 after a flat 100.9 kilometres ride from Alcorcon, while Yates retained his advantage over Spain’s Enric Mas, Viviani’s team-mate at Quick-Step Floors, in the final general classification standings.
And the day belonged firmly to Yates, who fought back from the disappointment of running out of gas at the Giro d’Italia after holding the race leader’s pink jersey for 13 days to triumph in Spain.
Those punishing three weeks may have ended in heartache, but they proved Yates, who won the young rider classification at last year’s Tour de France, had what it takes to contend in Grand Tours – and he delivered at the very next opportunity.
Yates’ coronation was the fifth Grand Tour win in a row by a British rider, Froome having completed a Tour-Vuelta double last year.
Yates said as he celebrated his success: “It’s astonishing really.
“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 also paid tribute to Yates’ achievement, saying: “Simon has looked so strong over the last three weeks and it’s great to see him take home the maillot rojo. It’s been a perfect year for British riders.”
Yates, from Redvales, honed his talents in the hills surrounding Bury and at Manchester velodrome.
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