Adam Yates rescues his Tirreno-Adriatico with hilltop stage win

British climber drops the peloton and solos to victory

After a crash ruined his overall classification chances on stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) has been nothing short of relentless in his quest to win a stage, and on his third attempt on stage 5 the climber enjoyed his just rewards.

On the steepest slopes approaching the finish in Filottrano, the British climber – who is targeting the Tour de France this July – made use of some excellent pace work from his team before accelerating away from the vastly reduced peloton. Two riders in Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) initially thought about holding Yates' wheel, but when he stamped on the pedals for a second time they were forced to drop back and wait for the rest of the group.

An attack from almost four kilometres to go appeared risky at first, especially with the calibre of the opposition, but Yates built up a lead of almost 20 seconds, before Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and new race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) rounded out the top three at the line.

"I've been feeling really good on the climbs, especially the steeper sections, and with the situation on the general classification we knew that we needed to race intelligently to get a stage win and try to move back up the overall," Yates said at the finish.

"The guys were absolutely brilliant today, and we went in with a plan that was executed perfectly. They really ramped the pace up on the closing circuit and dropped me off in a great position on the climb. All I had to do was attack. I've been feeling really good and I knew if I could get a gap that I had as good chance of holding it."

Yates came into the race as a genuine contender and only enhanced his chances of a podium spot thanks to an excellent ride from Mitchelton-Scott in the opening team time trial. They placed second to BMC Racing and put time into several riders, but that hard work was undone when Yates was hit from behind during the following stage. He lost over a minute and slipped from seventh to 71st overall.

At Trevi on stage 3 he finished second behind Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) and then took ninth on the Queen stage to move within striking distance of the top 10. Sunday's win has moved him into sixth, although the final team time trial will not favour him.

"After starting the race so well and then getting some bad luck it is great that we could turn it around and get the result today," Yates said in his post-race pass conference. "You have to get out there and do what you can, don't you? If I'd waited in the bunch much like everyone else, I wouldn't have won."

On the podium, Yates was presented with a trophy from Michele Scarponi's two sons. The Italian rider, who lived in Filottrano, was tragically killed in a collision with a vehicle while training last year. Sunday's stage was dedicated to his memory with the small hill-top village decorating the streets in blue and yellow – the colours Scarponi wore as part of the Astana team – and posters and flag commemorating his life.

"I never knew him personally, we never talked, but I can remember hearing him laugh at back of peloton," Yates said. "It was an emotional day for lots of guys in the peloton. It's a terrible shame he's not here."

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