Simon Yates wins his first race of the season on the Queen stage of Ruta del Sol

Sat 23 Feb 2019

Vuelta a España champion Simon Yates has claimed his first victory of the 2019 season on the Queen stage of Ruta del Sol, after a powerful attack on the the final first category climb.

The Brit fought solo from 26km to go and successfully held off six-chasers to take the stage victory and make it win number 10 for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Chaves makes the break

In the opening kilometres of the stage seven-riders, including Esteban Chaves, jumped away and hovered just over one-minute ahead of the peloton.

Eventually, four others successfully bridged across as they headed over the first climb of the day. Taking the pressure off his teammates, other teams led the chase and on the first category climb, the l’Alto de Purche, Astana Pro Team put the pressure on and the peloton split, with a select group of 30 making the junction to the escapees.

Yates on the attack

On the third climb of the stage Simon Yates, Pello Bilbao (Astana) and Sergio Samitier (Euskadi–Murias) away from the leading group but shortly after Jack Haig, Adam Yates and other race favourites bridged across to make a leading group of 10 riders.

Simon waited for another good moment and counter attacked a move from Bilbao. The Brit was able to open up a solo lead with nobody able to follow.

Gaining time

As the road continued to go up, Yates' advantage continued to increase and he reached the summit of the Alto d’ Hazallans with 22km remaining and a healthy lead of 47seconds.

Knowing the descent well, the 26-year-old continued to increase his advantage, powering around the corners and eventually crossing the finish line in Granada 26seconds ahead of the first chase group.

Simon Yates - Stage 4 winner

“I had better legs than the first few days, today I was feeling really good so of course I am really happy to win.

“We wanted to make it a really hard race, Astana did most of the job on the first climb then the race kind of evolved from there over the next climbs.

"I’m not high up on GC so I thought I’d have a bit more freedom and we wanted to put pressure on Astana and the other teams. We didn’t really want to ride behind so I went early and the selection was made and then the rest of the racing it sorted itself out.

“I never normally win this early in the season, I had a really good winter so I hope to continue that trend and keep it going.”

Ruta del Sol - Stage 4 results:

1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:01:03
2. Sergio Higuita (Fundación Euskadi) +0:26
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) ST

Ruta del Sol - General Classification ater stage 4:

1. Jakob Fugslang (Astana Pro Team) 13:43:41
2. Ion Izaguirre (Astana Pro Team) +0:07
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) +0:11
5. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:57

Photo courtesy of Getty Images