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Kiryienka puts Sky back in the frame in Vuelta a Espana

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Vasil Kiryienka (Sky)

Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vasil Kiryienka (Sky)

Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vasil Kiryienka (Sky)

Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Team Sky's bid for overall glory in the Vuelta a España may have not worked out as they wanted, but Belarus rider Vasil Kiryienka nonetheless netted the British squad an impressive stage 18 win on Thursday.

Best known as a strong team worker, Kiryienka's painfully slow but ultimately triumphant lone climb to the top of the six-kilometre Peña Cabarga means - amongst other things - that Sky have taken stages in all three Grand Tours in 2013.

At a team level, although Sergio Henao's failure to impact on the overall was a disappointment, Sky showed themselves to be in contention for stage wins. And for the Belarus rider, who left the Tour de France after he rode himself into exhaustion on the second stage in the Pyrenees and finished outside the time cut, it was an impressive return to the limelight.

Blowing a kiss and pointing at the sky as he crossed the line, the 32-year-old Belarus rider's victory came after breaking away on the Caracol climb, some 40 kilometres previously, then soloing all the way to the finish. It was his third Grand Tour stage win after taking two in the Giro, and his first victory since he won the overall of the Route du Sud back in 2011.

"I had a lot of time in the last climb to get to the top, and that was a good thing," he said with a smile. "I had to keep a rhythm like I was in a time trial, it was all about trying to stay steady all the way." He revealed, too, that his weight at the start of the stage was 74.9 kilograms and his power output for the climb was around 400 watts.

"Five years ago, I was in a Vuelta stage and I got close to winning, but I was beaten at the end," Kiriyienka said - referring to the stage into Segovia when he was beaten by Movistar's David Arroyo from a two-up break. "This time, though, I've set the record straight."

He dedicated his win to his team, "who have had confidence in me all year, and we've worked in a serious, honest, way," and to his former trainer, Daniele Tortoli, who helped him through his amateur years but who died recently of cancer.

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.