Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) survived a small scare on stage 10 to hold onto his slim lead in the overall classification of the Vuelta a Espana. Yates, who is just a single second ahead of Alejandro Valverde in the standings, suffered a puncture in the final 20 kilometres of the stage and had to battle headwinds to re-join the peloton.
Yates initially took a teammate's bike but decided to switch to his spare when faced with the windy conditions. In his usual measured manner, Yates shrugged off the moment and said that it could have been a whole lot worse had the wind been coming from a different direction.
"I had a puncture, which wasn't ideal. It was OK though, I changed bikes with [Michael] Albasini and then there were headwinds so I decided again to change my own bike. It could have been much worse if there was a bit more of a crosswind but the wind was in the face so it was OK," Yates told the press after stepping off the podium to collect his second red jersey of the race.
On Wednesday, the Vuelta continues to wind its way northwards with a rolling stage to Luintra. The finish was the scene of Yates' first Grand Tour success two years ago after he launched a late solo move on the final, unclassified, ascent. He finished 20 seconds ahead of his nearest chaser and gained 30 seconds on the main bunch behind. The finish is slightly different this time around and Yates believes it's not quite as hard.
"I've checked it out but I think that it is only the very final that is the same. The beginning part of the stage, as far as I'm concerned, was much harder the other year," he said. "This year, it's still hard but it's not the same. It was twisty and technical, and it still is, but not to the same extent. Of course, the finish is quite difficult. I expect a similar sort of scenario."
Though it is largely expected to be another day off for the overall contenders, with the big mountains waiting for them at the end of this week, Yates is ready for anything to happen. With the margins so fine at the top of the standings, a small gap could see the jersey changing hands.
"Every race is different. You don't know what will happen. Somebody might have a different idea, like today on the final climb there," said Yates. "I think Bora were trying to make it hard. I don't know, I was expecting that we would ride pretty easily to the finish. So, I wasn't expecting that and I'm sure we can expect something different tomorrow."
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