Yates gets surprise victory at Clásica San Sebastián

Luck turns around for Orica-GreenEdge rider in the Basque Country

Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) took the biggest victory of his career at the WorldTour Clásica San Sebastián on Saturday, however, he wasn’t able to properly savour the moment when he crossed the finish line because he didn’t know that he had won.

“Incredible,” Yates said in a post-race press conference. “I won, but I didn’t know I had won. I spoke on the radio to my sport director but because of the crowds the radio was too quiet.

“For sure this is the biggest win of my career. And it’s my first victory this year.”

Yates attacked near the top of the final steep climb over the Bordako Tontorra, which summited just seven kilometres from the finish line. Confusion was created on the climb when a TV motorcycle collided with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), who was just ahead of Yates at the time, and as remnants of an original breakaway were still being caught. Additional confusion occurred because of problems with the plane that helps transmit live television images, which forced teams to get details from race radio only.

Yates made it down the descent and held a 15-second gap on the chase group but he was not aware that he was the solo leader on the road coming into the downtown finish in San Sebastian.

“On the final climb there was a breakaway still up the road. Then there was a lot of carnage on the climb, there was a crash with a motorbike, and so I just went full gas. At the time I didn’t know if I had reached the lead or not,” Yates said.

Yates came into the Clásica San Sebastián fresh off a strong performance at the Tour de France, where he took seventh places on stage 8 on the Mur-de Bretagne and stage 10 on La Pierre-Saint-Martin.

“As soon as the Tour de France finished last week, Adam’s preparation for the San Sebastian started,” Orica-GreenEdge director Neil Stephens said in a team press release. “He has been really focused in training and the way he has looked after himself, and he deserves the win.”

Yates hasn’t had the best of luck racing in Spain’s Basque Country, after crashing at the Clásica San Sebastián last year, and at Pais Vasco for two years in a row.

“In 2014 I went to the Tour of Basque Country got sick and crashed, last year's San Sebastian I crashed and this year's Tour of Basque Country I crashed again,” Yates said. “Normally when I come here I don’t do anything, just crash. It’s fantastic, hopefully I can come back next year and defend my title.”

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