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Yates moves into 3rd overall after gutsy final climb attack at Pais Vasco

Fri 10 Apr 2015

2014 Tour of Alberta mountains classification champion Simon Yates has finished sixth on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, courtesy of a bold attack from a chase group of general classification contenders on the final climb of the day.

The gutsy ride has moved the 22-year-old from ninth into third overall with a 18.3km time trial, featuring the same climbs as today’s stage, concluding the Tour tomorrow.

The story of the day saw two battles, one for the stage win from survivors of an early breakaway of 31 riders, the second in the chase, for valuable seconds at the top of the general classification table.

Looking strong and recognising his chance, Yates attacked from the chase group of race favourites on the final climb, finishing 53seconds behind stage winner Mikel Landa (Astana Pro Team).

“It started yesterday on the final climb,” Yates said of his strategy. “I was always reacting to the favourites and I was letting them dictate the pace but in the end I was still with them.”

“When a climb is as steep as it was today it doesn’t matter where you are in the bunch, tenth or first, you are going as fast as you can.

“So that was the plan going into today’s stage - to go in, have a go and put it out there. If it wasn’t good enough then no worries, but I would know I went up there as fast as I could.”

The British climber gained three seconds on Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) to reduce his overall deficit to the pair to seven seconds. Pre-race favourite Nairo Quintana finished 15seconds behind Yates to drop to fourth overall, 12seconds behind the leading duo.

Shaping the day, what started as a solo move by Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) grew to a large group of 31riders at the head of racing on day five of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.

The group included ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Daryl Impey but didn’t involve any direct threats to the top of general classification table and as a result the chase from behind wasn’t spirited for the catch.

With 50km to ride the 31riders had over four minutes advantage but as the group hit the first of three ascents up Aia it erupted into pieces resulting in a lead group of four riders left to contest the stage.

“Simon was confident he was climbing as strong as the other climbers in the race,” Stephens said. “So we thought that as long as he is well positioned he might be able to go for the stage.”

“When it came to 30km to go we knew the stage was going to be really hard, if not impossible, to win so the main priority was the general classification.

“We wanted to conserve the general classification position but he has actually done more than that.”

With the final time trial still to come tomorrow, Yates is wary of the competition around him.

“I’m mindful that I could lose some time,” Yates said. “The way the time trial course is, with the same climbs as today, it does go into my favour a little but it’s still one of my weaknesses unfortunately.”

“I expect to lose some time but hopefully I can limit it as much as possible.”

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