Adam Yates punctures out of contention on stage 2 Itzulia with Nieve the highest finisher in 20thTue 9 Apr 2019
Briton Adam Yates suffered an untimely puncture today during a tough second stage in Itzulia Pais Vasco, which subsequently saw him lose time overall, despite a huge effort from his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates with their hard chase.
Local Basque rider Mikel Nieve was the highest finisher for the team in 20th place after maintaining his position in the front group, with the rest of the team sent back to help Yates in his attempt to return to the front of the race.
An early breakaway
In the opening stages of the 149km day, three-riders jumped away to form the day’s breakaway, before shortly being joined by one other to make the front of the race four riders strong. The group rode out to over three minutes before the peloton picked up the chase, and made the catch as the riders began a series of gravel road sections inside 60kilometres to go.
Gravel causes splits
As predicted, with the nature of gravel roads and technical narrow, twisty sections, the peloton split into several groups but with Mitchelton-SCOTT always present at the front with numbers to their advantage.
An untimely puncture
Things all looked to be going well until Yates suffered a puncture at a crucial moment, mid-way through the final gravel road, and despite a fairly fast wheel change from teammate Damien Howson it proved to be the defining moment of the race for Yates and the team.
Nieve remained in the front group and in contention as the rest of the team dropped back to help chase in an attempt to bring Yates back into contention. However, occuring with less than 20kilometres to go and with a hard pace being set at the front by Team Sky and Astana Pro Team, Yates eventually finished the stage one minute and 12seconds down on the eventual winner Julian Alaphillipe (Deceuninck-Quickstep).
"I couldn’t have punctured at a worse moment. We rode well as a team all day, stayed in good position and out of trouble on the gravel sections but unfortunately all that can disappear when you have some bad luck.
"As of right now it’s a pretty frustrating situation but as a team we’re in good shape and motivated to do something. We just have to wait for an opportunity to present itself and then we will be going on the offensive."
Julian Dean - Sport Director
“It was literally the worst possible moment of the race to puncture as it was so close to the finish and the last pavè section, so it was hard to get a quick change and get back in to the race was always going to be an enormous challenge.
“All the right riders stopped, Nieve stayed in the front and they gave it everything, but the race was already going ahead with Astana and Sky riding, so it was just pure bad luck.
“We aren’t going to discount our goals of finishing on the podium, there’s still hard stages left so Mikel is probably are option now but Adam is certainly not out of the race and stage wins is still an objective.
“The gravel sections themselves weren’t too problematic, they were somewhat uncharacteristic for a race like this to have that but the final circuit itself was quite technical and complex, so if you add that to the gravel then it was a pretty intense final 55kilometres.
“That’s bike racing, the boys did good and there’s nothing more we can ask for.”
Itzulia Pais Vasco - Stage 2 Results:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) 3:29:37
2. Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal) ST
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) ST
20. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Itzulia Pais Vasco - General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Max Schachmann (Bora-Hanserohe) 3:46:48
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +0:10
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) +0:11
25. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 1:05
Photos courtesy of Getty Images