Both Chaves and Yates gain time after brilliant display by OBE on Queen stage of La Vuelta a EspanaSat 3 Sep 2016
An outstanding display of tactical racing by ORICA-BikeExchange on today’s stage 14 of the Vuelta a Espana sawstage six winner Simon Yates move up to fourth overall and teammate Esteban Chaves up to third.
Stage 12 winner Jens Keukeleire set the day up by infiltrating the breakaway alongside Simon Gerrans and Magnus Cort with the trio setting the tempo all the way to the penultimate climb.
Australian Jack Haig was next to play his part with an attack out of the peloton that was followed by Yates. Haig gave his all and launched Yates up the road where Gerrans, Cort and Keukeleire were waiting.
The plan was executed beautifully with Yates riding exceptionally to finish fifth behind stage winner Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) as Chaves unleashed an explosive attack of his own out of the favourites group.
Chaves dropped both Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) and race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) crossing the line some 30seconds ahead in ninth place and moving up to third overall with Yates now in fourth.
“We had a plan at the start and we executed it to perfection,” said Yates. “The whole team performed really well and it's good to see it pay off today.”
"There were a lot of guys still up the road who had been in the breakaway and everyone’s tired at this point, but I'd been in the bunch so I was that bit fresher on the Aubsique.”
Fittingly, 2016 Tour Down Under winner Gerrans was awarded the prize for the day’s most combative rider and made a deserved appearance on the podium.
Sport director Neil Stephens praised the marvelous performance of the team.
“There are some very strong teams competing in the race,” said Stephens. “We knew we were going to have to go head to head and we had some thoughts, almost a dream really, about how we were going to go about it.”
“The way we read the race was one of our particular strengths today alongside commitment, camaraderie and the faith these guys have in each other. This made it possible for us to pull it off today. Without those things we would not have achieved half as much as we did.
“We got the first part of the job done by getting three guys in the break, which was great. Next was putting Jack (Haig) out the front of the peloton who was followed by Simon (Yates).
“This caused some confusion and the other teams had to look at each other for a reaction, by the time they did Simon was in the valley with his other three teammates. These guys went on to hold off the chasers brilliantly, which allowed Simon to go again which really split the favourites group.
“When Esteban attacked it was just the leaders, no workers and it was down to the other favourites to respond and in that moment no one wanted to commit and that made the difference.
"I was hopeful we could move up the classification today and that’s what we did. Third and fourth place means we can be self assured about our position with lots of racing to come.”
How it happened:
A full on mountain stage in the French Pyrenees got underway with 41 riders forming the early breakaway ahead of the day's first climb.
The group included Gerrans, Cort and Keukeliere for ORICA-BikeExchange and after 40kilometres of racing they had a developing lead of three minutes.
Over the first category Col Inharpu the leaders extended their advantage to four minutes with Gerans, Cort and Keukeleire setting the pace out of the descent and onto the long Col du Soudet.
The tempo of the ORICA-BikeExchange trio at the front of the escape saw some riders lose contact on the Soudet, with Team Sky leading the peloton still four minutes behind.
The gap reached close to six minutes on the descent towards the penultimate climb, the category one Col de Marie-Blanque, with Gerrans putting in a huge shift on the front towards the climb.
Gerrans pulled off the front and out of the group on the low slopes of the Marie-Blanque as the group began to split, with Cort dropping off a few moments later.
Five minutes further back Haig attacked from the peloton with Yates following closely. The ORICA-BikeExchange pair quickly developed a 30second advantage before Yates pushed on after a strong pull from Haig.
Over the top of the climb Yates linked up with Gerrans and Cort, the race plan working to perfection with Movistar now being forced into action in the peloton and the Col d’Aubisque up next.
Yates, Cort and Gerrans were four minutes behind the surviving leaders of the breakaway and over one minute ahead of the peloton with 25kilometres to go and Keukeleire around the next corner.
The quartet continued to increase the pace as they passed former members of the earlier break and saw their group swell in numbers as the six leaders hit the Aubisque 40seconds ahead of the first group of chasers.
After a mammoth days work Gerrans was last man as he led Yates into the first kilometres of the climb before Yates accelerated away in pursuit of the chasers and the six leaders, now three minutes ahead.
The peloton thinned out as a group of overall favourites formed with ten kilometres to go with Yates still one-minute 30seconds ahead and closing on the leaders.
Five kilometres to go and Yates caught the chasers, passed them and set off in pursuit of the four remaining leaders as the favourites group exploded behind him.
Chaves followed the attacks of Quintana with an explosive one of his own and broke clear of the group with only three kilometres remaining.
Yates crossed the line in fifth place behind stage winner Gesink with Chaves in ninth, both ORICA-BikeExchange riders moving up the general classification.
Tomorrow’s stage 15 is a short one at 118kilometres, but is another tough day in the mountains with three categorised climbs and a challenging summit finish on the first category Los Sarrios.
Vuelta a Espana stage 14 results:
1. Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) 05:43:24
2. Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) 00:00:07
3. Egor Silin (Team-Ktátusha) 00:00:09
5. Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:39
General classification after stage 14:
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 58:41:40
2. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00.00:54
3. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:02:01
4. Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:02:17