Three-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Simon Yates has added a Vuelta a España stage win to his successful 2018 season with a perfectly managed effort and attack on the final ascent of stage 14.
The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider remained calm on the steep final climb, despite being outnumbered and constantly attacked, before he attacked with 650 metres to go to claim the stage ahead of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) to take the overall lead once again.
At just five minutes down on general classification, Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) gave the peloton something to chase when he initiated the breakaway of stage 14. Thankfully for the bunch, he had just five riders for company and Cofidis, with the help of Movistar, kept them on a tight leash for the entire day. At a maximum, the group had almost four minute’s advantage, but by 50 kilometres to go it was down to just two minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Kwiatkowski was the strongest rider of the move and the last to survive before he was caught with five kilometres to go after Bahrain Merida put pressure on the bunch on the final descent to shrink the main group.
Groupama set the initial pace on the final climb before Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) attacked and Movistar Team set off in pursuit. Yates stayed calm and picked his moments to close any gaps that appeared, including a move by Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Lopez in the final two kilometres.
With half a dozen main contenders back together heading into the final kilometre Yates judged the time to attack perfectly. The 26-year-old hung on to win by two seconds from Lopez and Valverde and leads Valverde by 20seconds on the general classification.
Simon Yates: “I chose my moment really well there in the final. I didn’t look back until it flattened off a little bit and I had a bit of a gap so just gave it everything to the line. I feel a bit more like I deserve it (the red jersey) this time , I gave it everything I could today in the very end and I am very happy.
“I chose my own pace, I can’t respond to everything but I managed it well and chose my moment well. I didn’t know the climb, I didn’t know if it was going to get steeper or easier, so I was really managing and controlling my effort and went at my own tempo.
“Movistar had three guys at one point and I was alone, not to say the team did a bad job because they did a fantastic job, just I was alone at that moment and I can’t control everything so I just tried to stay calm and that’s what it was really.
“I remember tomorrow’s stage from 2016, that is the only time I have ridden the climb, it is a very difficult climb and I hope to have the same legs as today. I expect Movistar to be very active again.
La Vuelta – Stage 14 Results:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:19:27
2. Miguel Lopez (Astana) +0:02
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:02
General Classification after stage 14:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 59:11:18
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:20
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:25