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Simon Yates fades after Tirreno-Adriatico attack to suffer GC setback

Simon Yates (Bike Exchange)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) illuminated stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico as part of an elite four-man break on the road to Chiusdino, but the Briton’s overall aspirations were dealt a blow when he surprisingly lost 1:22 after being caught and dropped by a reduced peloton in the finale.

Yates had gone on the offensive in the company of João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) on the climb of Poggio alla Croce with a little over 30km remaining.

The quartet built a lead of almost half a minute after Yates led them over the summit and they still had 20 seconds in hand as they began the shallow, 7km haul to the finish line at Chiusdino.

The move began to break up on the steeper upper slopes of the climb and Yates was distanced when Sivakov accelerated with 2km to go. He was caught by the reduced peloton shortly afterwards and he was unable to keep pace with them to the finish, coming home almost a minute and a half down. In the overall standings, Yates lies 58th, 1:34 down on leader Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

Yates began his season at Strade Bianche on Saturday, and Tirreno-Adriatico is his first stage race since he was forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia last October after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The Briton had entered last year’s rescheduled Giro as a favourite after winning Tirreno-Adriatico, and he has already confirmed that he will again target the corsa rosa in 2021.

“Obviously with Simon, it was a disappointing result, we can’t hide from that,” said BikeExchange directeur sportif Matt White. “It is his first race here and it is the start of his preparation for the Giro d’Italia. He looked in very good shape on the final climb with the KOM and taking some time bonuses. We will now just refocus for tomorrow.”

It was a more successful afternoon for Yates’ teammate Robert Stannard, who rode strongly to place 6th on the stage in the same time as Alaphilippe. The 22-year-old lies 7th in the general classification, 14 seconds behind Van Aert.

“It was quite cruisy at the start and then it was really on over the hills in the final hour or so. It was nice for us to have Yates up the front for a bit, it took the pressure off a bit,” Stannard said in a statement from Team BikeExchange.

“The goal for me today was a top five result, so I was pretty close, but I think I did what I could do in the final there. I had the legs; it was just a matter of positioning in the final kilometre.”

White paid tribute to the young Australian’s efforts in the finale.

“Rob was our designated leader today and he was in good company, he finished sixth which is a really good result for him on a finish that which we knew suited him,” said White.

“It was a very aggressive last hour and all the pure sprinters where dropped and that is the type of rider Rob is; he is very fast and can climb quite well.”