Simon Yates crashes out of Pais Vasco on brutal Queen Stage

Fri 8 Apr 2016

A heavy crash 100kilometres into stage five forced Simon Yates of ORICA-GreenEDGE to abandon the 2016 edition of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco today.

Multiple Tour de Romandie stage winner Michael Albasini was the team’s best finisher on the day in 16th place. Stage winner Diego Rosa (Astana) broke free from the day's early breakaway with over 70kilometres still to race and held on for the solo win.

Sport director Neil Stephens was thankful Yates did not sustain any obvious serious injury.

“What a day,” said Stephens. “We knew it was going to be an incredibly hard day and we had a good race plan at the start of the stage to try and work for Simon (Yates) until the final climbs. Unfortunately due to the crash we had to adapt and at that point it was too late.”

“Simon needs to have some more x-rays but at the moment nothing appears to be broken. His knee is in pretty bad shape as are his ribs and wrist but hopefully he will make a speedy recovery.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE started the day with attacking intent with the Spanish duo of Ruben Plaza and Amets Txurruka both present in the early breakaway. The break unfortunately splintered before the bulk of the group were pulled back over the first couple of climbs.

“Ruben (Plaza) and Amets (Txurruka) were our guys for the first part of the stage,” continued Stephens. “Until Rosa broke free it was looking like we might be able to maintain our positions and push on from there.”

“Obviously everyone is disappointed about how the week has played out, on behalf of the team I would like to thank the fans for their continued support, they are always incredible wherever we are racing.”

How it happened:

Arguably the most difficult stage of the race, Friday's Queen stage began in the picturesque seaside town of Orio before heading inland towards the mountains for some serious climbing.

An early breakaway group of over 20 riders, including Plaza and Txurruka, escaped within the first 20kilometres and developed a lead of four minutes over the peloton.

After 70kilometres of racing the field had covered the first three climbs of the day, Rosa was out front alone with a group of four chasers over two minutes behind with the main bunch at three minutes and 45seconds. The group of four chasers, led by Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quickstep) were losing time on Rosa as he crested the Kanpanzar climb.

The relentless parcours of stage five and the cold, wet conditions caused many riders to abandon before the finish. A crash involving Simon Yates of ORICA-GreenEDGE forced the British rider to abandon the race after a group of riders including Fabio Aru (Astana) hit the ground heavily.

With 50kilometres left to race Rosa was still out front alone, with the Verona group over two minutes behind and the peloton a further three minutes back. Approaching the sixth climb of the day, the Izua, it was LottoNL-Jumbo on the front of the bunch working for race leader Wilco Kelderman. The now heavily reduced field were still chasing Rosa with 35kilometres to go.

Approaching the San Miguel climb with 25kilometres to go to the finish, the bunch had split behind Rosa with multiple attacks beginning to form including Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and race leader Kelderman. Five kilometres later and Mikel Landa (Team-Sky) and David Lopez (Team-Sky) broke clear of the Contador group in an attempt to chase down Rosa.

Fragmented groups were now strung along the road behind the solitary leader, heading onto the final climb and Rosa still had a healthy advantage over the chasers. Contador launched another stinging attack that only Sergio Luis Henao (Team-Sky) could follow, leaving Landa and Kelderman in their wake. However it was not enough to bring back Rosa, the Italian crested the climb alone and descended the few hundred metres to the line to seal the victory.

Contador and Heano crossed the line together over three minutes behind the winner, the result puts Henao into the race leader's yellow jersey going into tomorrow's final stage.

Stage six of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco concludes tomorrow with a 16kilometre individual time trial in the Basque city of Eibar.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco stage 5 results:

1. Diego Rosa (Astana) 4:19:19
2. Sergio Luis Henao (Team-Sky) 0:03:13
3. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) 0:03:13
16. Michael Albasini (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 0.04:41

General classification after stage 5:

1. Sergio Luis Henao (Team-Sky) 22:15:24
2. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) 0:00:06
3. Thibault Pinot (FDJ) 0:00:10
35. Adam Yates (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 0:16:23