The third and final Grand Tour of the season came to an end on Sunday in the streets of Santiago de Compostela, after a demanding time trial won by the red jersey himself Primoz Roglic. On this last day of racing, Kevin Geniets and Anthony Roux finished just outside the top-20. The Groupama-FDJ cycling team then completed the event without a win in its bags, but it was not for lack of trying.
“The results are far from enough”, Thierry Bricaud
From one cathedral to another, the Vuelta ended on Sunday in front of that of Santiago de Compostela, three weeks after starting from that of Burgos. For all the riders remaining in the race, “only” thirty-four kilometres were left to cover on a challenging circuit. Starting early, Josef Cerny stayed in the “hot-seat” for a long time before Magnus Cort, already a three-time stage winner, came to crush the best time. The Dane remained in the lead for two hours, but it was ultimately red jersey Primoz Roglic who secured his fourth stage victory in the Vuelta around 8.30pm. For Groupama-FDJ, Kevin Geniets and Anthony Roux set 21st and 22nd fastest times respectively on the stage, about three minutes behind the Slovenian. “It was a quite long and very difficult time trial,” said Thierry Bricaud. “You needed to be fresh enough after three weeks. Kevin and Anthony were, and they achieved good time trials. We are a bit disappointed for Tobias, as the course could suit him but he did not feel good and couldn’t compete at his real level. On the other hand, Kevin showed that he was finishing his first Grand Tour in a good shape”. “The legs were really good,” confirmed the Luxembourg champion. “I wasn’t necessarily expecting it after Saturday’s stage, which was difficult for me. From the start I felt quite fresh and I gave 100%. I am really happy”.
The 76th Vuelta thus ended on a good note. However, the final results don’t meet the initial expectations. “The results are far from enough”, confessed Thierry. “We expect much better from our riders, and they also expect much more from themselves. We knew it would get difficult if we didn’t win a sprint in the first two weeks. This is what happened. There is nothing to blame them about though. There certainly was motivation. We had different plans every day and they committed properly. It’s disappointing for Arnaud and for us not to have won a sprint. We did everything we could to make it happen, but they couldn’t find the opening or be aggressive enough when they needed to. Given the level on this Vuelta, we paid for every mistake. It’s disappointing but they all worked well for three weeks and all gave their best”. Second in the fourth stage, Arnaud Démare properly competed in a sprint only once. “We are surely very disappointed not to have brought home a victory”, added the former French champion. “Now, everything was not bad. I got through the mountains well. As a team, we have always remained united. I hope this last very hard week will do us good for the end of the season, especially for Paris-Roubaix as far as I’m concerned”.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” Kevin Geniets
“They all finish tired, which is normal after a Grand Tour, but they are not super exhausted, and the end of the season now lies ahead”, added Thierry. “We hope that this Vuelta will benefit our riders”. As the only Grand Tour “rookie” in the team, Kevin Geniets is already delighted with his experience. “As far as I’m concerned, it went really well,” he concluded. “I entered a breakaway that went to the end (8th). I tried to go back in front in the third week but it didn’t work out. Overall, I am very, very satisfied. I have learned a lot about myself during these three weeks. I didn’t know how my body would react after ten days of racing and whether I would recover well in week three. I also learned how to handle the more difficult stages well. It was completely different from a one week-stage race. I enjoyed it a lot, and I can’t wait until next year to go for another one”. In the near future, the Luxembourg rider will travel to Trento at the end of the week to compete in the road race of the European Championships.