The most aggressive of all the GC contenders by far on stage four, Briton's gutsy attack brought him within 10 seconds of the overall lead and now places him in third overall.
Perhaps mindful of the Giro d'Italia, where Yates took the lead but faded badly in the finale of the three weeks, it had been felt that the best strategy was not for Yates to show too strong a hand, too soon in the Vuelta.
Yates, however, followed his impulses, saying he felt there was a chance to be grabbed - so he took it.
"It was not in the plan, I got carried away, but I felt good and I saw an opportunity," Yates said afterwards. "Lotto-Jumbo were running a good tempo through the town" - midway through the climb - "but seemed to fall apart or slow down a bit and I thought I would keep going. And that was it really."
Rather than race with a particular strategy, Yates said, it was all about racing on feeling. "I don't really know what I was doing. Maybe I was testing the guys and was thinking someone would come with me. But that was that."
Alone and at the head of the field of GC contenders, Yates forged onwards, opening up a gap of 27 seconds on race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), and moving onto the provisional podium in the process. "I'm not trying to be cocky or anything, it was just one of those things and when I tried once I got away."
"It looks like I have gained the time I lost in the other part of the race, in the prologue [stage 1] and the other day [stage 2 to Caminito del Rey] with the little kicker, so yeah, it was a good day."
As the Briton said, Yates' unplanned strategy has, in fact, paid off excellently, given that he has closed the gap on Kwiatkowski in terms of time as well as distancing some of his rivals a little, but has not actually taken the lead. As a result, the Mitchelton-Scott racer is now shadowing the Pole closely, reaping all the potential benefits in the mid-term, but with none of the extra pressure. It's also fair to say, too, that Yates' status as a leading overall favourite is now all the greater.