Yates strong for third on stage four of Pais Vasco

Thu 9 Apr 2015

Young British climber Simon Yates has finished third from a select group on stage four of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco in Spain today.

The 22-year-old looked strong amongst a small move of a dozen riders, including all the general classification favourites, up the final category one climb that peaked just a couple of kilometres before the finish.

Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) used experience to win his second consecutive stage, finishing ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) and Yates.

“Simon was really good,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “He went up the climb, he looked pretty comfortable, he rode a nice sensible race and he got to the finish.”

“With 500m to go he could have won the race or he could have finished tenth. It was all down to who went into that last corner first and unfortunately for us it was Rodriquez who we knew was going to be the one to beat.”

“But Simon was certainly one of the strongest there today, he gave it his best shot and we just couldn’t quite pull it off.”

The podium moves Yates into ninth position overall, still ten seconds off the pace of leader Sergio Henao (Team Sky).

Colombian Esteban Chaves also started the day just ten seconds behind but having lost time on today’s stage will prove to be crucial support for Yates in the remainder of the Tour.

“Esteban gave it everything he could and unfortunately he got to the last kilometre of the final climb and he really just blew his door off,” Stephens said.

“As long as he can recover for tomorrow, he turns into a key tool to be able to use in tomorrow’s stage. Tomorrow’s stage isn’t as high of a mountain as today but could quite possibly be the hardest stage of the race.”

It took 50km of racing for the first breakaway of the day to form. Fourteen riders, including ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Pieter Weening, got out to a one-minute advantage but were deemed too dangerous and the move shut down ten kilometres later.

Shortly after, a group of four initiated a second move and approached a two-minute advantage after 80km of racing. As they negotiated the climbs throughout the 162.2km stage, the gap began to reduce before Tony Martin (Etixx Quick-Step) and Tom Danielson (Cannondale Garmin) dropped their companions to go alone.

The pair worked back out to a two-minute 25second lead but a peloton led by Team Sky and Movistar Team kept the gap manageable.

As the peloton approached the final of seven climbs, a category one, ORICA-GreenEDGE moved to the front and pushed the pace in support of Yates and Chaves.

“The boys are really energetic and we will never see them doing half a job,” Stephens said. “They knew their work was finished at the foot of the climb, so they wanted to empty out their last bits of energy and drop their teammates with every possibility.

“We can’t win every day we try, but we have to try everyday in attempt to pull it off.”

As the attacks began up the difficult final ascent, a select group of 12 riders remained in contention. A solo move by Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha), who was joined by race leader Hanao, was shut down shortly after the peak of the climb. The race into the finish was fast, Rodriguez timing his move to the front to perfection as he maneuvered a series of final corners ahead of the line.