Simon Yates has started as he means to go on, taking a spectacular solo victory on the opening stage of the three-day Vuelta Asturias. The 29-year-old headed to the race, using it as the final touches to his preparations for the Giro d’Italia starting next week, and today demonstrated top form by riding away from his rivals in the final and to his second victory of the season.
Confident in his ability, Team BikeExchange-Jayco allowed an early breakaway group of five riders to gain momentum and ride out to a maximum advantage of just under 10 minutes, during the 170km hilly stage from Oviedo to Pola de Lena.
The squad then took up position at the head of the peloton for the majority of the stage, keeping the breakaway in check, before picking up the pace inside the final 50km and eventually making the catch with 35km to go as the race headed into the more selective, hilly section.
Working to neutralise any further breakaway attempts, the Australian outfit stayed attentive while also keeping team leader Yates well protected. Damien Howson then made a tactful acceleration at the base of the final climb and opened up a gap with Ivan Sosa which set up Yates perfectly, putting pressure on the remains of the peloton and allowing the Brit to launch his damaging attack around one kilometre from the summit of the final climb.
Yates successfully powered away from his opponents and maintained his advantage on the predominantly flat run-in to the finish line, to take the win by 14 seconds, and in doing so, took the overall lead of the race.
Simon Yates – 1st place:
“First of all, I have to thank all of my teammates for the great work they have done all day long. In the finale, we kept the pace high to avoid some attacks and be in the top positions at the start of the last climb. Damien Howson made a move, got a gap and then I attacked over the top.
The sensations are good, and the legs responded very well. Tomorrow is the Queen stage, and it would be nice to be able to win again, also because my goal remains to win the overall.”
Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“It took 20 or 30km for the breakaway to get away, then we took control for most of the stage. When we got to the more selective part of the race, the last 35km, Movistar pushed the pace and then we carried it on especially with Callum Scotson. Callum did an incredible 15km and by the time he finished, the bunch was only around 15 or 20 riders left on the penultimate climb.
Then going into the bottom of the last climb, Damien Howson attacked so that allowed Simon to come from behind. Damien got out there with Sosa, Simon jumped across to them and then continued again on his own.
It was nice work by the team and a nice exhibition by Simon who went only in the last kilometre of the last climb with around 5 or 6km from the finish line. He won solo by 14 seconds which gives us a nice buffer with the bonus seconds going into the next two days.”
2022 Vuelta a Asturias stage 1 results:
1. Simon Yates 4:26:44
2. Vincenzo Albanese +0:14
3. Alexis Vullermoz +0:14
General Classification after stage 1:
1. Simon Yates 4:26:34
2. Vincenzo Albanese +0:18
3. Alexis Vullermoz +0:20
Photo: Photo Gomez