Yates safely through flat stage 18 before La Vuelta heads to AndorraThu 13 Sep 2018
Three-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Simon Yates has been safely guided through stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana thanks to his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates.
The flat stage, with no categorised climbs, looked set as one for the sprinters but despite controlling the race all day, they failed to catch the breakaway from which Jelle Wallays (Team Lotto-Soudal) won just ahead of the bunch sprint.
Sprint teams take control:
A respite from the mountains had the sprint outfits motivated for stage 18 as they moved to the front of the bunch immediately to control a move of three riders.
From the opening kilometres it looked clear that the efforts of Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sven Eryk Bytrom (UAE Team Emirates) and Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) would result in little as they were kept within three minutes of the peloton thanks to Quickstep Floors, Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe.
Despite the small advantage all day, the trio of leaders maintained a 90-second gap with 20km to go and 30seconds with 3.5km remaining.
The technical roads of the city finish in Lleida assisted Wallays and Sven Erik Bystrom (UAE Team Emirates) finish the stage in the top two just centimetres ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) who won the sprint from the bunch for third.
Yates was kept right towards the front of the bunch all day, particularly in the closing kilometres, and maintains his 25-second lead to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) as the race heads to Andorra tomorrow.
“It was ok today until the final, it was very fast because of the wind and that made it hard, but for the rest it was a nice day and probably the easiest of the race so far. I am looking forward to tomorrow now.”
“I was just trying to safe with my positioning in the final, there was quite a lot of roundabouts coming into town and up near the front is the safest place to be. I wasn’t thinking of bonus seconds.
“It’s going to be very difficult over the next couple of days, but we will try. I know the roads, so maybe that will help a little a bit, but it is going to be very difficult and I will give it my best shot.”
La Vuelta a Espana - Stage 18 Results:
1. Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) 03:57:03
2. Sven Erik Bystrom (UAE-Team-Emirates) ST
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) ST
12. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
General Classification after Stage 18:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 73:02:37
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:25
3. Enric Mas (Quick-Step-Floors) +1:36
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.