Simon Yates Wins Lugano Mountains Classification

Sun 2 Mar 2014

Simon Yates won the mountains classification at the G.P Città di Lugano. The Brit was part of an eight rider breakaway that included his teammate Leigh Howard. As the peloton began to close in on the leaders in the final hour of racing, the breakaway splintered. Yates one of two riders to evade the peloton’s grasp until the final ten kilometres.

“The boys were good right from the start today,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “There was an attack at kilometre two, and Leigh and Simon were in the move right away. Leigh has been a little sick lately, so it was especially good for him to get in the break today. The characteristics of the race suited Simon better, so Leigh assumed a lot more of the work in the break.”

“The whole day they were thinking – alright there’s a small chance this could stay away,” Stephens added. “The main thing was to keep the pressure on the rest of the peloton and to allow their teammates back in the bunch to have an easier ride. That was the plan, and it worked out super.”

The eight escapees built up a maximum advantage of nearly seven minutes at around 50 kilometres. Ag2r La Mondiale was the first team to commit to the chase, pegging the break back slowly but steadily. Eventually IAM, Lampre-Merida and Cannondale sent riders to the head of the bunch to assist in the efforts. 

“Ag2r were the first to chase,” noted Stephens. “Other teams joined in after that. Lampre came in at the end and really started to pick up the pace. At that point, it became clear that it was going to be difficult to stay away.”

“There were about eight kilometres left when they caught Simon,” Stephens added. “He was able to earn the mountains prize along the way, which was great. It’s always good to have a rider on the final podium.”

The heavy circuit combined with attacks in the finale whittled down the chase group turned leading group to less than 20 riders. ORICA-GreenEDGE had two riders in contention with the finish line looming. 

“We were looking pretty good in the final,” said Stephens. “We had Simon Clarke and Ivan Santaromita in a group of 15-20 riders coming into the finish. Unfortunately, with 500 metres to go, someone ran into the back of Simon Clarke and took all the spokes out of his rear wheel. He locked it up but managed to keep it upright. That was really unfortunate that he lost his wheel and his chances like that.”

Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli – Yellow Fluo) took the race win ahead of Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida). Santaromita was the team’s top finisher, just outside the top ten in 11th place. While it’s always disappointing when a mechanical steals an opportunity for a result, Stephens considers the day a success by the standards he outlined ahead of the race. 

“A few days ago, I said it would be a successful day if the boys were amongst the race action,” said Stephens. “They were amongst it from kilometre one and all the way to the finish line. We were in the break. We got the mountains jersey. We had two riders left in the group at the finish. It was a good day for ORICA-GreenEDGE in every regard – except for the result.”