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'Onwards and upwards' for Simon Yates after positive day on Giro d'Italia sterrato

Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange)
Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) was one of the few overall contenders to have profited from the Strade Bianche-style stage 11 at the Giro d’Italia. Although Yates lost time to maglia rosa Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), he moved up four spots in the overall classification and now sits in fifth place 1:22 behind the Colombian.

“It was a good day today looking at the situation with the GC. I have moved up to fifth overall now so onwards and upwards," Yates said.

Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka Assos) won the stage that included four gravel sectors from a breakaway sprint in Montalcino. In the GC battle, however, Bernal conquered the gravel to extend his overall lead after finishing 11th, 3:09 behind Schmid, while Yates finished the day in 15th place in a group just 26 seconds behind Bernal.

"It is was not one of the days I was looking forward to but I think I did a good ride there and had good legs, so I am looking forward to the days to come," Yates said.

Stage 11 was the first day back to racing following Tuesday’s rest day and Yates lined up in Perugia in 9th place overall 56 seconds behind Bernal, likely hoping not to lose too much time on the off-road stage. 

He admitted that gravel racing isn’t his strong suit but that he at least had some experience competing at Strade Bianche this spring where he placed 63rd.

"It is not my favourite terrain, I don’t have any experience of riding off road other than in Strade Bianche earlier in the year, which I think was very valuable in doing just for the experience and it helped me a lot today as well as doing the recon before the race. 

"I am just happy to get through it really," he said.

Not all the GC favourites fared as well as Yates, however, a Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) struggled on the gravel sectors and lost 3:08 to Bernal. 

Other contenders that lost significant time included Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), who is more than four minutes down, while Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Davide Formolo, who lost more than six minutes.