Yates crossed the line in the front group of 30 riders, and remains fourth overall, 51 seconds behind red jersey Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ). The Briton was kept a sharp eye on any late attacks, though, as he said afterwards, “we were all going too fast for anything to stay away.”
“I was fine, I was a bit nervous at points when a few guys went up the road, but the team did a phenomenal job putting me in position and closing down the moves. So I just cruised into the line,” Yates added.
Yates was critical of the difficult road surfaces in the final kilometres, agreeing that it was strange that after a day of racing on broad, straightforward roads, the peloton encountered such a narrow one in the finale. “It was sketchy,” he said. “And the descent [near the finish] was in terrible condition.”
The sight of all the top teams massing on the front at around 40 kilometres to go suggested that trouble was brewing and when they turned hard right onto a narrower, rougher country lane, the race mutated into a totally different beast.
For the next 45 minutes, riders were faced with twisting, narrow backroads, treacherous downhills and what Yates said was a “really bad road surface, with greasy roads.”
Mitchelton-Scott’s Damien Howson was among the riders to come down in the multiple crashes that affected the riders, although he could continue. Yates himself managed to come through one of the Vuelta’s most difficult and unpredictable days unscathed. “It was pretty dangerous,” he said, “but I got through ok.”
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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