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The Basque rider ran as high as fifth during the race, and rebounded after the time trial to elevate himself up to eighth after a gutsy ride on the final day in the mountains.

Photo: Sirotti

CHRIS FROOME

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MIKEL NIEVE

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TEAM SKY

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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13.09.2015 @ 23:11 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Mikel Nieve secured an impressive eighth place overall as the Vuelta a Espana came to a close in Madrid. After three hard weeks of racing the result marked Nieve's best finish in a Grand Tour to date, and was made possible by a tireless Grand Tour from Team Sky.

 

The Basque rider ran as high as fifth during the race, and rebounded after the time trial to elevate himself up to eighth after a gutsy ride on the final day in the mountains.

 

The closing run into the Spanish capital was a largely ceremonial affair but saw a final sprint take place with John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) emerging victorious. Behind him the red jersey of Fabio Aru rolled across the line with his Astana team-mates to confirm victory.

 

In the end the Italian won the race by a margin of 57 seconds over Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) rounding out the podium 13 seconds further back.

 

Team Sky headed into the event with Chris Froome as team leader and the Tour de France winner's form grew as the race progressed. A close second place on the stage nine summit finish showed the legs were there, but the Brit's race was ended two days later after fracturing a bone in his foot on the road out of Andorra.

 

The team set about protecting the position of Nieve and also looking to challenge for the team classification. Holding the lead for much of the three weeks, the team were finally forced to give up their grip on the prize on stage 18 - eventually finishing second.

 

Nicolas Roche pulled off a superb stage victory from the breakaway on stage 18 into Riaza. The result was reward for a great ride as the Irishman battled on despite crashes blunting his own promising GC challenge.

 

Team Sky put up more impressive performances in breakaways during the race. Salvatore Puccio came close to a stage victory in the mist of stage 14, placing second. Ian Boswell, who completed his first Grand Tour in Madrid, took third in the break on stage 11, one of the toughest stages in recent memory.

 

The final week saw top-10 performances from Christian Knees and Sergio Henao in breakaways, with Vasil Kiryienka taking fourth place in the time trial around Burgos. Geraint Thomas completed his first Vuelta a Espana, backing up a sensational summer ride at the Tour de France.

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