Euskaltel Euskadi concluded their final Grand Tour by winning their first ever team classification prize on Sunday.
The final stage of the Vuelta a España was as expected decided in a mass sprint finish in downtown Madrid, meaning the team easily held onto their lead in the team rankings.
While a stage win and an overall podium placing eluded the team, a visibly emotional Igor González de Galdeano expressed his delight at bowing out by taking "the best win possible".
"Going into the race, we had set ourselves three goals: a stage, a podium place for Samuel Sánchez and the team rankings", the team head explained. "We've reached both goals in years prior, but we'd never succeeded before now to win the team classification in a Grand Tour. This is the best win and the best way to say goodbye", he continued somewhat philosophically.
While the season - and with it Euskaltel Euskadi as we know it - is by now means over just yet, de Galdeano felt a rush of emotions while up on the stage.
"I've always emphasized team work and being solid as a unit - that everyone forming part of the team feels a part of the success. We achieved that on our last try", he said. "I felt a lot of feelings going through me while we enjoyed ourselves on the podium. Images, pictures, memories, feelings... Everything went through my mind so quickly. Questions everywhere... It was a very special moment", he concluded.
Team leader Sánchez closed out his final Grand Tour appearance in an orange jersey with a respectable eighth place finish, leading the way ahead of Igor Antón in 20th and Mikel Nieve in 23rd.
A win might have escaped the team, but winning the team prize perhaps feels even sweeter - if only because it puts the focus on the team and not one single individual. More than anything, it's always been about the team at Euskaltel.
- (1, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), 2:44:00)
- 26, Gorka Verdugo, 0:03
- 32, Igor Antón, s.t.
- 35, Egoi Martínez, s.t.
- 40, Mikel Nieve, s.t.
- 43, Juan José Oroz, s.t.
- 49, Jorge Azanza, s.t.
- 51, Mikel Landa, s.t.
- 62, Samuel Sánchez, s.t.
- 63, Pablo Urtasun, s.t.
Final general classification:
- (1, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard), 84:36:04)
- 8, Samuel Sánchez, 9:51
- 20, Igor Antón, 33:05
- 23, Mikel Nieve, 49:36
- 30, Egoi Martínez, 1:12:18
- 39, Mikel Landa, 1:37:26
- 46, Juan José Oroz, 1:48:50
- 63, Gorka Verdugo, 2:20:01
- 90, Jorge Azanza, 3:03:39
- 122, Pablo Urtasun, 4:08:50