Yates and Chaves solid in first GC shake up at Pais Vasco

Wed 8 Apr 2015

Climbers Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves have finished 8th and 16th respectively on stage three of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, the first day to shake up the general classification competition.

The pair finished ten seconds behind Joaquim Rodriquez (Team Katusha) who took the win from two other narrow escapees. Another group of four riders crossed the line seven seconds off the pace.

After an opening stage victory and narrow second place yesterday, Michael Matthews relinquished his overall lead to Sergio Henao (Team Sky) who finished second on the stage. Chaves and Yates moved up into 15th and 16th overall.

“We had a plan to make sure the boys were well placed but we also thought let’s try to go one bit further, let’s try to do something on the stage,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “It was a big ask, but you have to aspire to these things.”

“The team did a great job to set them up and we had two in the front group. They helped each other a little bit, probably Esteban doing a bit of work for Simon more than anything else, coming into the final climb.

“They were there with the best of them, they didn’t quite make it with the front guys, but our general classification aspirations are still well alive and the boys should be proud of the work they have done.”

The third stage flagged the beginning of the tougher climbing days to come as the peloton set off on the 170.7km trek from Vitoria to Zumarraga. There were eight categorised climbs along the way, including two category one in the first half and a final category two that peaked just three kilometres from the finish line.

A quartet of riders, featuring a duo from Caja Rural – Seguros RGA, went on the move early but never looked super dangerous with an attentive Movistar again on the front keeping patrol of their advantage.

As the gap sat around two-minutes, there was an obvious move in the peloton, including by ORICA-GreenEDGE, to fight for position moving into the third last climb of the day with just over 30km to go. The same climb would again feature as the final climb.

The break fractured on the same climb as Lieuwe Westra (Astana Pro Cycling) attacked his companions out front.  And shortly after, the positioning proved crucial as the narrow roads and enthusiastic fans saw many riders mid-pack peak the ascent on foot due to the hold up splitting the peloton.

Westra survived solo out in front until the chase group swept him up at the beginning of the same climb, the next and final time around.

It was an attack by Henao, Rodriquez and Nairo Quintana toward the top that proved successful as the trio contested for stage honours just three kilometres later.