RIDER REACTION: 2020 La Vuelta a España

Sun 8 Nov 2020

As the third and final Grand Tour of the season La Vuelta a España came to a close today, we spoke to each of our riders to get their thoughts on the past three-weeks of racing: 

Esteban Chaves - (COL, 30)
“First I want to congratulate the organisation for the race, it is impressive what they did and that we have arrived in Madrid and we have to be grateful for that. I think for the team is has been a good Vuelta with the younger guys like Callum (Scotson) and Rob (Stannard) they have shown they can be the best riders in the world. Also, Nick (Schultz) and Dion (Smith), Alex (Edmondson) they have made a step forward and Mikel (Nieve) has shown he is back to his level at his injury after the Tour also the races were close together.

"Also Tsgabu (Grmay) has shown he is on a good line and myself, I started the first week unbelievable, I showed to myself I can be with the best again, I need to continue working and keep believing that I can race at that level for a number of weeks.This is the little thing I miss for the moment but in general I am happy to finish in Madrid.

"Of course the expectations were high and this is also one thing that made me disappointed at the end but this is normal, you need high expectations if you don’t, you don’t want to fight anymore. We just need to keep believing and working.”

Alexander Edmondson - (AUS, 26)
It has definitely been a challenging three weeks and added to the year that has been such a rollercoaster and with the weather and the time of year, normally we are already in off-season, so it has been hard to try and balance the mental side as well as the physical side.

“We have had some good results here but I guess we would have wanted a little bit more but at least we have finish, we have made it to Madrid and with all eight of us still here and it is going to set us up really well for next year and we have seen real promising signs.”

Tsgabu Grmay - (ETH, 29)
“It was a good one, we didn’t get the results we wanted, that we were hoping for before the start but everybody was giving 100%. We were fighting there, really trying our best.

"From my side, I had a lot of up and downs but I would say I am satisfied with this Vuelta and it has been more experience to know the races, read the races and also working well with my teammates.

“I think this race has been a little bit strange, sometimes when you think the breakaway will stay away, they didn’t and then some stages when you think the GC guys will control it but it wasn’t like that. So, it was quite hard to read this race but sometimes this happens in a big Grand Tour, so it is all good experience.”

Mikel Nieve - (SPA, 36)
"I feel a bit mixed. I came from the Tour with injury and I started with some doubts, but I started better than expected. But in the last days I was not as a I wanted, so it’s been difficult. But I think the important thing is that I’ve been consistent again, I’ve been close with the best.

"The younger riders were really good, Rob and Callum, they impressed me. For their first Grand Tour, already they were fighting for stages or taking control of the race. It’s been really good to see how they worked.

"Maybe we don’t have the result that we hoped for, but I think that the way that we worked and everything has been the way you need to be to win."

Dion Smith - (NZL, 27)
“I had some ups and downs and it was a bit bittersweet with the results for me personally. “I came close to winning a stage, winning a stage for me would have been a step-up so I would have like to have done a little bit better.

"We had a couple of young guys here doing their first Grand Tour and they have shown their great potential for the coming years so that was really good for the team. We didn’t have a top result, a win but it wasn’t from a lack of trying so we have to be happy but of course a little bit disappointed."

Nick Schultz - (AUS, 26)
“Overall this year’s Vuelta has been a really good race for the team and for myself personally I have seen a lot of progress from previous years and previous Grand Tours. I’ve been more consistent and able to go a lot deeper into the stages, supporting our GC riders and also making into some more significant breakaways with higher calibre of riders.

“It has been nice to see the progression and I hope that getting this Grand Tour in the legs in this sort of weird year will help with my progression even more for the coming seasons.”

Callum Scotson - (AUS, 24)
It was my first Grand Tour and it was good, I think in the end we were super lucky with no coronavirus cases and also with the weather. It is certainly different to a lot of other races, just the level of the field in general and I really noticed how you have to be switched on every day, if you’re ever in a bad position your race can be over pretty quickly.

“It has all been new and I found it interesting how you just get into a routine and keep racing every day for three-weeks, I was scared at first how tired I might get but you just keep going.

“I think definitely on my good days here I stepped-up, they were a lot better than in the past and finishing this season compared to finishing last season I am a lot happier; I think I have improved a lot.

“I think a Grand Tour suits me in some ways, being able to recover and back-up and they make you step-up so having now completed one I am looking forward to the next one and knowing what to expect.”

Robert Stannard - (AUS, 22)
“For me I would say I am happy with how I went, I obviously would have liked to have gotten a better result, a better result than I achieved (5th place stage 10).

“In terms of holding my form throughout the week I did it better than I expected. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it, in terms of the nutrition, ways to race a Grand Tour and last for three weeks going full gas, so that has been really good and I am looking forward to the next one.”

Photo courtesy of Bettini Photo.