Seventh place for Simon Yates on a summit finish in Volta Ciclista Catalunya

Thu 22 Mar 2018

Last year’s Tour de France white jersey winner Simon Yates climbed to seventh place on a summit finish in La Molina on today’s fourth stage of Volta Ciclista Catalunya.

The tough mountain stage caused a change up in the overall classification with Yates dropping one place to fifth, and stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) moving into the race lead with four stages remaining.

Teammate Esteban Chaves animated a large part of the stage, after attacking away from a small breakaway group and leading the race solo until 25kilometres to go.

The move by Chaves

Unlike previous stages and despite numerous attempts, no riders were able to form a breakaway in the first hour of racing. Finally after 80kilometres of racing, Chaves along with three other riders were given some freedom and began to breakaway from the peloton.

Chaves decided to jump away from the group and led the race solo, hovering over one and a half minutes ahead of the peloton for a number of kilometres. As he approached the 20kilometre hors category climb, the Col de Creueta, Chaves’ advantage dropped slightly but he battled on to maintain a one minute lead over the group up the climb.

La Molina finale

With 25kilometres to go as Chaves crested the top of the penultimate climb and entered La Molina, the Colombian climber was caught and passed by Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) and then Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Finally they were reeled in by the significantly reduced peloton before the final attacks began.

Changing situation at the front

As the race descended and then climb up towards the summit finish, the race continued to change at the front. Movistar took control of the race with three riders plus Egan Bernal (Team Sky) leading the way with just five kilometres to go.

Yates fought hard behind to close the gap in a small group as the race continued to fragment, but in the end it proved to be the race winning move, as Valverde jumped passes Bernal to take the stage win. 

Simon Yates - 7th place

"Today was a difficult stage and now with yesterday’s stage being shortened, the only summit finish here in the race so a very important stage. 
"We wanted to be aggressive and the boys did a great job of doing that. Esteban was away on his own which forced Movistar to chase. 
"In the final, I didn’t have the legs to follow the best guys here in the race and with the lack of cooperation in the group behind we maybe lost more time than we should have, but that’s just bike racing, and we look forward to the following days racing."

Dave McPartland - Sport Director

“We really wanted to go on the front foot today and use our numbers, the plan wasn’t to go so early but we wanted to put someone in the break and force Movistar to ride hard all day. It was full gas for the first 70kilometres of the day and the breakaway just couldn’t get away.”

“Once Esteban was in a group with three others and they started the first category climb they weren’t riding his tempo and he then got a minute straight away. It was earlier than planned but he was able to get a good gap quickly and it still forced team’s to chase."

“Simon maybe wasn’t on one of his best days but he still limited his losses and put in a  good ride, realistically it will be super difficult for the GC but of course we will still ride hard every day with hard days to come. A podium would be fantastic and we will see how the next days go.”

Volta Ciclista Catalunya stage four results:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 4:21:54
2. Egan Bernal (Team Sky) ST
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:06
7. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:53

General classification after stage four:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 17:00:58
2. Egan Bernal (Team Sky) +0:19
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:26
5. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +1:12

Photo courtesy of Getty Images