After some strong teamwork on the final laps, CCC Team brought Sajnok into an almost perfect position, allowing him to contest the stage and show that he still has power in his legs after three long weeks of racing. Today’s strong third place now takes the Polish rider’s total of individual top ten finishes in Spain up to four after some strong performance throughout the three weeks of racing.
CCC Team started stage 21 with six riders after Víctor de la Parte was forced to abandon the race following a crash on stage six and Patrick Bevin left the race after stage 14 to focus on the World Championships following a strong ride to help the team secure sixth on the opening team time trial as well as a display of skill, power and speed on the stage 10 time trial to take second place.
By crossing the finish line in Madrid, five of CCC Team’s remaining riders, Will Barta, Paweł Bernas, Jonas Koch, Sajnok and Nathan Van Hooydonck, have now completed their maiden Grand Tour after being guided round Spain by experienced road captain, Francisco Ventoso, who now has 17 Grand Tour to his name.
Alongside Sajnok and the New Zealand national time trial champion, CCC Team heads home with another three individual top ten finishes courtesy of Koch.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“It’s a pity that I just missed out on a win since I felt very good today. Maybe I could have done something different in the sprint but to finish the Grand Tour with a third place is something I can be happy about. I didn’t know what to expect before the race because I knew there were some hard mountain stages ahead but I knew I was well prepared and I have been slowly getting closer to the top guys. I’ve drawn many conclusions from the previous sprints and this time I didn’t wait until the final 500 meters but I decided to move up to the front with 1km to go and that paid off. I’m happy that I could learn from my previous mistakes.”
“I am really happy that the team gave me the chance to start here. I think it is, for me, a big learning curve and I gained a lot of experience. I leave with a couple of top ten finishes and that motivates me to continue working hard in order to come back to the start line of a Grand Tour ready to keep challenging for results. It feels super nice to reach Madrid.”
“I feel tired but I feel super happy to finish my first Grand Tour. I’ve really enjoyed the last three weeks of racing and I have definitely learned a lot. Everyone was super excited to me here and even though we were a young team, we wanted to try to make the most of it. We had Fran with us and he helped us a lot. We learned a lot from him and we took it day by day. He’s such a great guy and the experience was made better with him guiding us.”
“I am very happy that I made it to the finish line in Madrid. It was really tough for me and at first, my body wasn’t responding well but I’m glad that I could overcome this and make it here. It gives me a lot of confidence that even if I am not feeling well, I can still race at this level. I think this Vuelta was one of the toughest Grand Tours in recent years with really no ‘easy day’ and I have gained a lot of experience from it. I think from here I can grow as a rider and be ready to focus on a more satisfying goal.”
“I must say that I am really satisfied at the end of this Vuelta a España. This was my first big tour and I had no problems with the length of the race. It was actually maybe even the opposite, I felt better from week to week and I managed to be in the top ten a few times which was really nice for me and also my goal so I think I can say I achieved what I wanted to here.”
Nathan Van Hooydonck:
“I am pretty tired but I have enjoyed it. We’ve had a good group of riders and it was unfortunate the Víctor crashed out. That wasn’t nice. But, Jonas and Szymon have managed to sprint into the top ten a couple of times and I think we did a pretty good Vuelta all things considered. I’ve learned a lot here especially with a guy like Francisco Ventoso on our team. That really helped as he could pass on all his knowledge to the me and the rest of the team really as we were a young group here.”
“I’m happy to be reaching the final finish line of this Vuelta a España in Madrid. I think this has maybe been one of the hardest Grand Tours of my life and overall we have made the most of it. Not just the racing and parcours have been hard but all the transfers as well and I think everyone has really been on the limit. We had a young team here and I was happy to be able to help guide them around my home country. It was a pity we lost Víctor in that crash as that would have given us another card to play.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“I think we came into this race with a few goals and I think we met most of them. One of our biggest goals was to take our five riders who had never raced a Grand Tour through to the finish and we are happy to say that we achieved that and I think they will all grow from this experience. The time trial was one of our next main goal and I think, in my opinion, we can say that was achieved with Paddy really close there for the win.”
“We wanted to win a stage and try something on the GC with Víctor and I think that’s where the bad luck came. We lost him to the crash and without that happening we would have tried for the GC and if that wasn’t happening, he could have had some freedom for a stage. That’s unfortunately the one piece of the puzzle that didn’t come together.”
“However, overall, we can leave happy. We had quite a lot of top tens, and one really good third with Szymon today, and with this young group we can be happy with what we did really.”
Stage 21: Fuenlabrada > Madrid (106.6km)
Top 3: 1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) 2. Sam Bennett (BORA – hansgrohe) 3. Szymon Sajnok (CCC Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 3. Szymon Sajnok 48. Francisco Ventoso 136. Nathan Van Hooydonck
Top 3 on GC: 1. Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) 2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 3. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates)
CCC Team Top 3 on GC: 60. Jonas Koch 97. Francisco Ventoso 114. Nathan Van Hooydonck