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Simon Yates on track for Vuelta a Espana in final countdown

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is never one to overstate his case, but at this point in the game, not even the Briton can deny he's showing great pre-race form for the Vuelta a España.

Sixth in his first Vuelta a España in 2016 but 44th last year, this time around Yates comes to the race after a rollercoaster Giro d'Italia, where he led the race for much of the first two weeks this May and won several very tough stages before fading badly on the Colle dell Finestre.

However, an imaginary graph of his build-up to the Vuelta a España, which he has described as "very different" to the Giro in other interviews with Cyclingnews, would show a steady upwards line towards Malaga and the short time trial that opens the race on the evening of Saturday 25th.

In Yates' return to racing at the Prueba de Vilafranca after the Giro, he finished second behind a teammate Robert Power. Then on his return to World Tour events in August, he forged a lone breakaway and solo win on the Tour de Pologne's toughest hilly stage just under a fortnight ago. Had Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) weakened a little earlier on the last ascent to Bukowina, Yates would have been Britain's first winner of the Eastern European event.

"I've done a long and slow progression to where I am today, I did the Tour of Poland and was getting better every day, managed to win the last stage and the signs are good, the sensations are good," Simon Yates told reporters on Thursday in the start city of Malaga. "I'm looking forward to getting underway here."

Mitchelton-Scott arguably have the strongest all-around team at this year's Vuelta, too, with Matteo Trentin, the winner of four stages in 2017, in the mix for the sprints, and a plethora of climbing firepower to support Yates.

"It's a well-rounded team where we can target the stage and the overall," Yates said. "Trentin was phenomenal here last year." Another standout teammate alongside Simon Yates, of course, will be Simon's brother Adam.

"He's one of the best climbers in the world as far as I'm concerned, having somebody of that level supporting you, not many teams can provide that for a rider, it's going to be good," Simon reflected. "I hope we both have some good form and no bad luck."

Looking at rivals rather than allies, Yates was loath to name a single contender for GC so early in the game. As he pointed out there is an immensely long list of potential candidates to succeed Chris Froome (Team Sky) as the winner of the Vuelta a España.

"Everybody," he answered cheerfully when asked who he thought could create most problems for him in the GC battle. "A lot of guys are, like I said before, coming from the Giro or the Tour, so it'll be interesting to see how they respond to this race and how their progress has been towards here."

Of course, interest in Yates himself and how he goes in the second part of a season where he has come closer than ever before to winning a Grand Tour will hardly be low, either.

 Hear more from Simon and Adam Yates in our podcast.

The Cyclingnews podcast is brought to you in association with Prendas Ciclismo, Pinarello and Floyd's of Leadville (opens in new tab).

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