As the Vuelta comes to its close in Madrid, our riders look back on a rewarding three-week tour
The Vuelta a España has arrived in Madrid.
After a furious finale in the centre of the Spanish capital, racing up and down the city’s elegant promenades, past restaurants and nightclubs and tens of thousands of Spanish fans, our riders arrived onto the Plaza de Cibeles and crossed the last finish line of the Tour of Spain.
EF Education-EasyPost sports director Juanma Garate is proud of the way our team raced. Rigoberto Urán finished the 2022 Vuelta ninth overall and won a beautiful victory on the summit of the Monasterio de Tentudía on the 17th stage. Julius van den Berg wore the King of the Mountains jersey on his home roads in the Netherlands, where the Vuelta started three long weeks ago.
“We came with high expectations in the GC with the three riders we had: Esteban, Hugh, and Rigo. For different reasons, we struggled a little to be competitive for the whole three weeks, but in the end our team never lost the right spirit,” Juanma says. “They kept believing, and in a three-week race, you really need to keep believing in it. They kept believing, kept fighting, kept going into breakaways. And Rigo finished it off. That was really a highlight for me, for the rest of the team, for the staff. By catching the breaks, Rigo came back slowly in the GC and was able, with the help of his teammates, to keep the ninth place in the GC.”
Those were our triumphs. Every rider on our team did his part. When the going got tough, our riders never gave up hope. They rode on, up steep mountain roads into the Montes Vascos, Picos de Europa, and Sierra Nevada, through 35-degree Celsius heat, under the blinding Spanish sun. They rode on, so Rigo could win and finish in the top ten on GC. Each finisher of the Vuelta has his own story. Grand tours are hard. Riding one is a magnificent athletic achievement. This is what it means to our riders to finish the 2022 Vuelta a España in Madrid.
Julius van den Berg
"It was a special Vuelta, for sure, because the start was in Holland, my home country. I could go for the polka dots in the first road stage. That was incredible. To see so many crowds, yelling my name, was really special for me personally. It was amazing. And then the real Vuelta started in Spain. The GC started for us. We had some higher expectations than eventually worked out, but with the stage win with Rigo and the overall 9th place, we did a good race and the atmosphere in the team was really good. I think everybody can be happy with this result. I really enjoyed it."
"I enjoyed it. Sometimes you put a lot of pressure on yourself, but I tried to enjoy every stage, adapt to every stage, and race every stage. Even the flat stages in Holland—it would have been easy to let off. But I tried to learn something every day and enjoy it, and not get bogged down with thinking, ‘there are 12 stages to go, 15 stages to go’. It passed quite quickly. I enjoyed it. And I think we got something out of every day."
"The last week was too long for me. I had been hoping to hold my form from the first week through the whole Vuelta, but it is what it is. Anyways, I was happy to share this Vuelta with my teammates. So far it is still my best Vuelta, so I am still satisfied with it."
"It was a very hard and difficult Vuelta. But we were focused, always searching an opportunity. In the end, I’m happy with the result, with how everything ended. We enjoyed the last stage in Madrid."
"It was my first grand tour, and I can’t think of a better group to have done it with. Rigo got a result. We got a top ten. What more could you ask for"
"I am really happy to be here in Madrid to finish this grand tour. Since we started in Utrecht, it has been really good, with Julius in the climber’s jersey. And then Rigo won a stage victory and was top-ten in GC. For myself, I crashed on the stage in Utrecht and I could not be competitive. It was not what I expected of my performance. It was quite challenging, but during the last couple of days I was getting better and better, and, as I say, I was really happy to be here with my teammates and the staff. The body is maybe tired, but the head is still strong. It was a good tour."
"It was a nice Vuelta, a good Vuelta. The team was super, always ready to work. The staff, everyone, had a good experience here. I am happy to win a stage and finish in the top ten."