The Italian rider has had a rollercoaster ride to victory in the Vuelta, only finally succeeding in turning the tables for good in a dramatic last stage in the sierras of Madrid on Saturday.
Aru is the first Italian winner of the Vuelta since his team-mate Vincenzo Nibali in 2010, and the young Italian will be hoping that it represents a breakthrough for his career, as it did for Nibali - who then went on to win the Giro d’Italia in 2013 and the Tour de France and 2014.
"Today a dream came true, a dream I’ve had since I was a child,” Aru said - before standing on the winner’s podium once more, draped first in the flag of his home region, Sardinia, and then in that of Italy, to receive the final red jersey of race leader.
“I’m very emotional, very proud. I have to thank my teammates, they always believed in me and I dedicate this win to them and to my family.
“[Saturday’s] stage was the most emotional one for me because we did an amazing job as a team and we showed that we were really united.
“It’s been a very hard Vuelta, but I’m sure the public have liked it. It’s been spectacular.”
Whilst Joaquim Rodriguez returned to the Vuelta a España podium for the first time since 2012, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) claimed his first Grand Tour top three finish, and the first ever in the Vuelta a España for Poland.
“I am very proud to be here,” Aru said. “it’s been a very beautiful race. Congratulations to Purito and Rafal, who have shown they are two of the strongest riders in the world. And I hope to see you all again soon.”
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 Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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