In the final part of our look back at 2018 we focus on the Vuelta, a triumphant homecoming in Britain and late-season success.

August got off to a tough start for the team with Egan Bernal sustaining another injury. Riding high after a successful Tour de France the Colombian was caught up in a pile-up at Clasica San Sebastian, landing hard on his face. With a split lip, broken teeth and nasal fracture, in addition to a small bleed on the brain – it was a distressing moment which would put the young star out of action for a couple of months.
 
To date the Tour of Poland has proved elusive for both the team and national hero Michal Kwiatkowski. Arriving at the WorldTour stage race in the colours of national champion, Kwiato was in inspired form, winning two stages on the way to a popular overall victory.
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Over at the Vuelta a Burgos a number of Team Sky riders were building towards the upcoming Vuelta a Espana. David de la Cruz finished third overall in a repeat of his 2017 result, with Tao Geoghegan Hart (5th), Sebastian Henao (8th) and Kenny Elissonde (10th) all finishing in the top 10. Dylan van Baarle was another rider headed for the Spanish Grand Tour and he completed his preparations with fifth place overall at the BinckBank Tour.
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Team Sky headed into the Vuelta a Espana with an exciting team filled with strong riders. Without a pre-race favourite the squad were able to approach the race differently, learning a lot of lessons in the process. A strong opening time trial in Malaga meant that Kwiatkowski was immediately in striking distance of the red jersey on the race’s opening climb. By the end of stage two the Pole was leading the race, and would remain there for three days. He hung tough in the top 10 throughout the first week despite a crash on stage seven, before gradually slipping back in the mountains. De La Cruz would be the team’s best-placed rider across the three weeks, riding on the fringes of the top 10 ahead of an eventual 15th placed finish. 
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The team took an attacking approach to the race in a bid to secure a stage victory, routinely making the day’s breakaway across a tough route. As the race headed into September it was Van Baarle who came closest to victory. The Dutchman was part of the breakaway on stage 12 and in a narrow sprint came up tantalisingly short at the line. Not only was he faced with the disappointment of coming second, moments later Van Baarle was on the deck after an unfortunate collision with a race official and the lead two riders. After battling on for another day he was sadly forced to abandon the race due to a fractured pelvis. For young riders Tao Geoghegan Hart and Pavel Sivakov the race also provided valuable experience as both riders tackled their first Grand Tour. Sadly Sivakov was another rider to leave the race early following a crash.
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The Tour of Britain was a real late-season highlight and provided an incredible homecoming for Tour de France winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome. The pair were part of a talent-stacked lineup, and before the race had even begun the team were given a hero's welcome as they met young fans at the Maindy Flyers cycling club in Cardiff. The race saw incredible crowds and also some success for the team. Wout Poels won the queen stage in Whinlatter and a day later Ian Stannard saw an audacious long-range breakaway pay off with victory into Mansfield. Poels finished the race second, before the team celebrated in London with a takeover of the Pinarello Store.
Wout Poels - Tour of Britain stage 6

Wout Poels - Tour of Britain stage 6

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A series of Italian one-day races marked the lead into Il Lombardia and Gianni Moscon got off to a flying start with victory at Coppa Agostoni. The Italian was part of a long-range break and eventually won a two-up sprint for victory, signalling his intent ahead of the world championships. After a fifth for Leonardo Basso at Coppa Bernocchi, Moscon continued his momentum with another win, this time at the Giro della Toscana. After another podium at Coppa Sabatini, Gianni was among the lead contenders heading into the worlds in Austria.
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Team Sky placed fourth in the team time trial, putting in a strong performance after battling back from Ian Stannard's first corner crash. Kwiatkowski was fourth in the time trial in Polish colours, with Jonathan Castroviejo (6th) and Vasil Kiryienka (9th) also registering strong rides. Attention then turned to the road race, with Moscon coming to the fore in the lead group as the race arrived at the ‘Hell’ climb. Despite slipping back on the steep ramps Moscon was able to battle to fifth at the finish.
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Moscon added the Italian national time trial title to his growing palmares in October, taking the team’s nationals tally to eight for the season. There was good news too as Bernal made a welcome return from injury, picking up a top-10 in just his third race back at Milano-Torino. The Colombian was back in the thick of the action at Il Lombardia, showing fearless descending skills to make the front group, eventually finishing 12th.
 
Eddie Dunbar was a late-season signing after the closure of his previous team and his inclusion, in addition to stagiaires Ethan Hayter and Mark Donovan provided a great boost of energy in the final two months of the year. Dunbar travelled with the team to China for the second edition of the Tour of Guangxi. Moscon again showed his class, winning the queen stage and clinching overall victory in the WorldTour event. That marked the team’s 43rd win of a memorable year which proved to be the team’s best to date. Bring on 2019!
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