Yates fifth in a fast finish on Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage four

Thu 6 Apr 2017

Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates sprinted into fifth place on today’s fourth stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

The 24-year-old Brit launched an attack over the top of the final climb of the day with 12kilometres remaining, which caused the front group to reduce down to around 30riders.

Roman Kreuizger kept his ORICA-SCOTT teammate company in the leading reduced group as the riders barrelled down the decent and towards the finish line in Bilbao. 

With three kilometres to go, Primoz Roglic (Lotto-Jumbo) launched a solo attack and successfully stayed away to claim the victory with Yates sprinting in for a respectable fifth place.

We had a two-pronged attack today,” explained sport director Neil Stephens. “It depended on how hard they went up the final climb.”

“If it was really hard up the climb then our best option was with Yates, but if it stayed together, then we had both Michael Albasini and Simon Gerrans as another option.

“Unfortunately Gerrans crashed when we got to Bilbao so that eliminated him and Albasini couldn’t quite stay with the group on the final one kilometre of the climb. I then gave the all clear for the climbers to have a go and Kreuziger was first to light it up and then Yates launched over the top."

Despite attacking hard on the final climb which caused the lead group to decrease, it wasn’t enough to significantly split the race and so ORICA-SCOTT took their chances in the dash to the line, where Yates showed his track back ground to finish in a very respectable fifth place.

“We gave it a good crack there on the climb but we weren’t able to get away,” continued Stephens. “We tried our luck today and when it came down to a sprint Yates still had a good go.”

“Yates is pretty quick, he is a former world champion on the track in the point race. He was a little bit frustrated from what happened yesterday and everyday is another race day, so he had a good go at the sprint which was also good to see.

“Basically we tried our luck today and we are back on track as far as chasing stage victories goes.”

How it happened:

The fourth stage of Pais Vasco began like previous days with a breakaway forming in the early stages. After and active start with multiple attacks and breakaway attempts, a group of four riders finally came together ahead of the peloton and settled in a rhythm with the bunch happy to let them go.

Tomas Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), Amael Moinard (BMC Racing Team), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin) and Jonathan Lastra (Caja-Rural) opened up their advantage to four minutes and 40seconds with ORICA-SCOTT all safely in the steady chasing peloton.

Over the first of two category climbs of the day, the leaders advantage dropped down and as the riders passed the finish line with just 30kilometres to go the time gap was a mere 50seconds.

Unfortunately for Rob Power, a traffic cone in the road saw him take a heavy fall, however thankfully he was able to quickly get back onto his bike and finish the stage. Shortly after Gerrans was also caught out in a crash which wiped his chances of sprinting to victory today.

The remaining breakaway riders were finally swallowed up with 18kilometres to go, as the race headed up the final 5.6kilometre climb of the stage. 

Towards the top of the climb Kreuziger launched an attack and caused a fast chase from the now very reduced peloton. Soon after Yates countered which caused the front group to reduce even further with 12km left to race.

In the end, the victory went to the Roglic crossing the line alone just two seconds ahead of the bunch with Yates safety finishing fifth.

Tomorrow penultimate stage is the final road day before an individual time trail concludes the six-day race on Saturday.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage four results:

1. Primoz Roglic (Lotto-Jumbo) 4:23:46
2. Michael Matthews (Sunweb) +0:02
3. Giovanni Visconti (TBM) +0:02
5. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:02

General classification after stage four:

1. David De La Cruz (Quickstep-Floors) 16:38:42
2. Primoz Roglic (Lotto-Jumbo)+0:01
3. Michael Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +0:03
39. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +1:33

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