Yates suffers an untimely puncture in the final of stage three, Vuelta al Pais Vasco

Wed 5 Apr 2017

Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates suffered from an untimely puncture on today’s stage three of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, leaving ORICA-SCOTT out of contention for the stage victory. 

The 24-year-old Brit received a quick wheel change from teammate Jack Haig but despite a hard chase back with the help of his teammates, the key move of the day had already established over the top of the final and decisive climb of the day.

David De La Cruz (Quickstep-Floors) attacked and led the race solo, hanging on by just three seconds in the final to claim the stage victory with ORICA-SCOTT having to settle for a minor placing.

Despite things not going to plan, sport director Neil Stephens acknowledged that a puncture is just another aspect of the sport and that the team handled the situation as best they could.

“It was the worst moment in the race to have a flat tyre,” said Stephens. “The guys did the best they could to get Simon back and he gave it his best but it wasn’t good enough in the end to get back to the front. We just have to accept that bad luck sometimes comes like that.”

“The guys were aware of the puncture, we had Carlos Verona, Haig and Roman Kreuziger drop back with Simon which was good, but unfortunately we were back in car number 13. The guys were all too big to swap bikes and by the time the boys changed wheels they were really far behind.”

The undesirable circumstances left Yates in a tough position fighting back into contention, eventually crossing the line one minute and 33seconds down on the stage winner. With three stages still to come, ORICA-SCOTT will now change their ambitions for the coming days.

“We have to change our goals now,” Stephens continued. “We are out of contention for the general classification which is a real shame for us. Simon is in really great shape and was ready to fight for this race.”

“It could have happened to any of our riders but today it was Simon. It was a stage which we thought was a transitory stage but with this bad luck we have lost our options for the overall.

“We will fight for stage wins from now on and we just have to accept that this happened today.”

How it happened:

Stage three, the first real test for the climbers began with chilly, rainy conditions in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

After Michael Albasini’s stage victory yesterday ORICA-SCOTT headed into the stage with confidence and motivation to conquer the six categorised climbs along the way to the finish in San Sebastian.

It took the first 50kilometres of racing until a breakaway of nine riders formed ahead of the peloton and rode out to maximum advantage of four and a half minutes.

Various team’s contributed to the gradual chase, keeping a high tempo over the first four categorised climbs. As the leaders began the Puerto de Aliza third category climb, the escapees advantage significantly dropped to just one minute and reduced down to just four riders.

With 28kilometres to go Jakob Fugslang (Astana) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing Team) led the race after the remaining breakaway riders had been swallowed up by the reduced peloton led by Movistar. The duo hovered just 15seconds ahead for a number of kilometres until they returned to the bunch with 21kilometres to go.

As soon as the front of the race regrouped, Yates suffered a puncture at the most crucial moment. Haig quickly swapped wheels with Yates, who fought on and finally returned to the front bunch with 12kilometres to go, however the main move of the day had already formed and the team's hopes for a stage victory had dissapeared.

After a flurry of attacks on the steep slopes, De la Cruz went solo and held on for the victory with Yates crossing the line one minute and 33seconds behind.

Tomorrow the races covers more undulating terrain and is another great opportunity for ORICA-SCOTT to target a stage victory.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage three results:

1. David De La Cruz (Quickstep-Floors) 3:54:25
2. Michael Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +0:03
3. Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:03
50. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +1:33

General classification after stage three:

1. David De La Cruz (Quickstep-Floors) 12:14:54
2. Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:03
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:03
50. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +1:33

Photos courtesy of ©