Yates’ red surprise ahead of the first rest day at La Vuelta

Sun 2 Sep 2018

After leading the Giro d’Italia for 13days earlier in the season, Briton Simon Yates has added the red jersey to his palmares following the first ‘real’ general classification test on stage nine of the Vuelta a Espana.

The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider started the day in fourth position overall, 51seconds down on Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), and planned to follow the moves of his rivals on the final climb La Covatilla rather than be the instigator.

As the breakaway won the stage ahead, Yates followed the script to finish ninth on the stage, but with enough gap on those who were ahead of him at the start of the day to take the overall race lead by one second to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

King reigns again from the break:
Eleven riders formed the day’s breakaway and having been controlled at around five-minutes for the first half of racing, the advantage blew out to 10minutes in the valley towards the final climb.

Whilst their advantage had decreased by the start of the ascent, it was clear they would contest for the stage win and, for the second time this race, it was Benjamin King (Team Dimension Data) who prevailed.  

Race within the race:
Behind, the general classification battle was starting to heat up. Astana Pro Team and Team Sky pushed the pace on the lead up to the final climb, before Bora-Hansgrohe once again took ownership on the front as the road drifted upwards, whittling the group down in size.

With 20riders remaining in the first group, LottoNL-Jumbo again went on the aggressive, but it wasn’t until the final two kilometres where any big attacks launched.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) initiative a small move, and took Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) with them.

Yates also reacted in pursuit, finishing nine seconds down on the trio for ninth place on the stage. With Valverde a further 15seconds adrift and Michal Kwiatowski (Team Sky) and Molard off the pace, the 26-year-old moves in the red jersey ahead of the first rest day with a one-second advantage. 

Simon Yates:
“It wasn’t expected for me to be in the leader’s jersey at the end of the stage today. I was just trying to follow the best guys in the race and I was a little bit behind by a few seconds, so it is a bit of a surprise, but I am happy. A good surprise.”

“Being in the leader’s jersey is becoming a little but familiar now and of course I am very happy, but like I said it wasn’t expected so as far as a game plan I will have to sit down with the team and discuss how we approach being in the jersey over the next few days.

“On the final climb, it was exposed, and I would say the wind was a factor today, but not as much as we anticipated. I had watched a video from 2011 and that looked like the wind caused more damage than anything else, but it wasn’t as strong as that today.

“It’s difficult to say what I learned from the Giro d’Italia because I still don’t know why I cracked and if I did I would have learned a very valuable lesson, but we don’t know yet and that’s ok because every race is different.”

La Vuelta Stage 9 Results:
1. Ben King (Dimension-Data) 05:30:38
2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +0:48
3. Dylan Teuns (BMC-Rcaing-Team) +2:38
9. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +2:49

General classification after Stage 9:

1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 36:54:52
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:01
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:14

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.