Britain’s Simon Yates claimed stage six of the Vuelta a Espana with a gutsy solo attack in the final 3.5 kilometres for his first Grand Tour stage win as Colombia’s Darwin Atapuma maintained the leader’s red jersey.
Yates made the decisive break in the closing stages of the 163.2km stage from Monforte de Lemos to take victory in a time of 4hr 05min from Spain’s Luis Leon Sanchez and Italian Fabio Felline.
Yates, twin brother of Tour de France fourth-placed finisher Adam Yates, has only recently returned to competitive cycling from a four-month ban for failing a doping test at the Paris-Nice race back in March which forced him to miss the Grand Boucle.
The lenient ban came about because cycling’s governing body the UCI accepted the prohibited substance he had taken was unintentional after a doctor from his Orica team failed to file a therapeutic use exemption for an asthma inhaler Yates was using.
“We set it up pretty well in the beginning. I managed to take my opportunity in the finale, it wasn’t planned,” said a surprised Yates.
“It was a pretty crazy day with a lot of twists and turns. I timed my attack to perfection.”
Yates seemed determined not to be overshadowed by his brother’s success as the best young rider at the Tour as he judged his attack perfectly on another hilly stage with three climbs in the final 50 kilometres. Yates neutralised attacks from Mathias Frank and Dani Moreno in the final 10km before upping the pace to the finish line.
Behind him the general classification leaders stayed together in the peloton, finishing 29 seconds back. Atapuma maintains a 28 second lead over Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, whilst Chris Froome is four seconds further back in third as he attempts to become the first man to win the Tour of France and Vuelta back-to-back for 38 years.
However, Astana, who won the 2015 race with Fabio Aru lost their main candidate for the overall win when Miguel Angel Lopez retired three days after crashing and breaking teeth.
Earlier in the day director of the race Javier Guillen met with leaders of the LottoNL-Jumbo team to apologise for the events that forced Steven Kruijswijk to withdraw from the race with a broken collarbone in Wednesday’s fifth stage due to an unprotected traffic bollard.
Addy Engels, director of the Dutch team, refused to rule out taking legal action for the incident that left them without their main contender for the overall win.
“The Tour of Spain has acted well and taken responsibility for their error. Their apologies don’t fix, nor are they going to change what happened.” – Agence France-Presse