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Vuelta a Espana

Brandon McNulty: ‘I’ve had a great season’ but illness slows down Vuelta a España debut

McNulty on bad luck: 'It's been a really good season. it's hard now, but I hope to get back to winning soon.'

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ALHAMA DE MURCIA, Spain (VN) — Brandon McNulty is midway through his first Vuelta a España intent on helping a UAE Team Emirates teammate aim for the podium.

After a quick trip home to the United States, McNulty returned to Europe for his first crack at the Vuelta.

Despite big ambitions, McNulty fell ill in the opening days in The Netherlands, and isn’t racing at top form.

“It’s not been the best. I woke up with a fever during one stage in Holland before the rest day. I am not sick anymore, I just haven’t had good legs the whole Vuelta,” McNulty told VeloNews. “It’s not COVID, not respiratory. It was one really had night, and that’s it.”

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Right now, UAE has João Almeida and Juan Ayuso hanging into the top-10. He knows what his job is to do.

“We have a few GC options up there, so there are some chances left for us to try to win another stage,” McNulty said. “We have to defend our guys and see what they can do. Remco is looking good, so we have to see what our guys can do. There’s still a lot Vuelta left.”

It’s familiar work for the 24-year-old, who helped Tadej Pogačar win the 2021 Tour de France and finish second in July.

“I was feeling good before coming to the Vuelta and even in the first days. I think it’s caught me out, and maybe it can turn around.

“I went home to the U.S. for three weeks, and really rested up. It was good to see the family,” he said. “It wasn’t like it was a welcome party, but it was nice to be home for a bit.”

McNulty unsure about racing worlds: ‘I hope to get back to winning soon’

McNulty is making his Vuelta debut. (Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old McNulty said he loves a good hamburger when he gets back home to Arizona, and came to the Vuelta intent on finishing off the 2022 season.

He won early, hit 11th at the Critérium du Dauphiné and rode to third in the Pyrénées in an all-in bid to crack Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour de France.

McNulty was one of four North Americans starting the 2022 Vuelta, but Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Woods (Israel Premier Tech) are both at home. Lawson Craddock, the other started, hit a sixth in Tuesday’s time trial.

McNulty is slated to race the road worlds in September, but mentioned he has his doubts.

“For now, yes, but I don’t know,” he said. “It’s been a really good season. It’s hard now, but I hope to get back to winning soon. That’s how it is.”