So near yet so far. In one of the most nail-biting finales of recent editions of the Volta a Catalunya, a powerful late all-out attack by Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) saw the Briton come dangerously close to ousting Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) from the overall lead.
With around 20 kilometres to go on the multiple 6.8km laps of the hilly Montjuic circuit, first Adam’s brother and teammate Simon Yates, a former winner on the circuit, went up the road. Then Adam, 14 seconds back on GC and in second place behind López, attempted to break away as well.
Ably supported by his brother, Adam Yates opened up a gap of around 40 seconds, forcing Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez to come to the front of the main pack in person to try and chase down his move. Team Sky’s Pavel Sivakov, though, seemed to have more effect and finally, with less than a lap to go, Yates was reeled in.
Yates had to settle for second on GC, just as he had had to do in Tirreno-Adriatico a few weeks back, although on this occasion Yates had the added consolation of also taking the victory in the race's toughest trek through the mountains, at Valter 2000, on stage 3.
Then, whilst López moved into the lead at La Molina on stage 4, Yates tried to bounce back with a vengeance on Sunday’s stage 7, making for a scintillating final day’s racing to the Volta.
“We knew we had to be aggressive on this circuit. I’d done it a few times, a lot of the guys have done this circuit before, and we knew we had to be in the front,” Yates told a small group of reporters, including Cyclingnews.
“If you are going to be aggressive, it’s actually easier to do than being at the back of the bunch where it’s always one line in the tight, technical sections, so we tried to be at the front and I came to be up short. One day we’ll get it."
He grinned when asked about how it felt to go on the attack with his brother, saying, “He’s an animal, isn’t he? Whenever he does a turn, he was going pretty quick wasn’t he?”
“When he went for it with about three laps to go, I felt it was the right moment to go and it was the last stage, the last opportunity, why not give it a go? I needed quite a few seconds, not just one or two, and so I preferred to go for it from further out, a couple of laps out. We tried.”
Yates confirmed that he had been given the time gaps, which officially rose to around 40 seconds at one point, between himself and the main group of chasers, but “to be honest I felt they were a bit all over the place, I wasn’t sure of them.”
As he pointed out, often in the past on the Montjuic stage, the time gaps have been inaccurate.
"But it didn’t make much difference to me," he said. "In any case, I was just going flat out and seeing how far that could get me.
“On the climbs I was going quite strong, but when we got near the end there was a headwind on the flatter bits and I was flapping a bit. But I tried my best and that’s all you can do. One day it’ll come off.”
Adam Yates’ next target will be the Vuelta al País Vasco, which starts on April 8th.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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