Yates: Not to put a downer on the day, but I came here to win the Giro d'Italia
Briton takes career Giro stage win number six in Turin
At the end of a furious, non-stop stage 14 at the Giro d'Italia, which saw the GC upended and massive time gaps in Turin, it was Simon Yates who came out on top, soloing away from an elite group of GC contenders to take his second stage win of the race.
Following a jour sans on stage 9's ascent of the Blockhaus, which saw Yates shed over 11 minutes and decisively drop out of overall contention, the win – his sixth career Giro stage triumph – represents something of a consolation prize.
However, speaking after the stage, he said he didn't quite see it that way, instead noting that he had come to Italy only with the goal of winning the race in his mind.
"Not really," he answered in the post-stage flash interview when asked if his win made up for his disappointment.
"I mean not to put a downer on the day, but I came here to win the race. For me it's another stage. I have five already and it's number six."
Nevertheless, Yates was trying almost from the start of the hill-packed 147km stage across Piedmont to get away and into the day's breakaway. He was active on the earlier uncategorised climbs of the day, but eventually didn't make the move, which took 50km to get away.
But in the end, it was a stroke a luck that he hadn't wasted any more energy trying to break away, as Bora-Hansgrohe had other designs for the stage, driving a move which caught the break just 30km later, at the base of the first ascent of the Superga climb.
Yates was there, among a select few GC men, and stayed in that elite lead group as the pace and the attacks whittled it down. On the final metres of the day's final classified ascent, the Colle della Maddalena, he made it back to Richard Carapaz, Vincenzo Nibali, and Jai Hindley, before attacking solo to take the win over the final, unclassified, hill of the stage.
"I tried a few times in the beginning but it wasn't possible," Yates said. "I made a couple of moves but maybe the group was too big, or I wasn't allowed to go, I don't know.
"So, we had to change tactic and to go after the stage normally. It was lucky that Bora tried to chase for the stage or for the GC. From there onwards I did my best."
BikeExchange-Jayco directeur sportif Matt White was effusive over the efforts of both Yates and his teammates to turn things around following the disappointment of Blockhaus and the early end of their GC challenge.
"It was a big win. A very nice turnaround by the team and Simon as well," he said. "Things hadn't gone as planned but a true test of someone's character is how they can turn things around. Simon had a very, very impressive ride today. What a race.
"We were in a brilliant position because he was the only guy in the front group there who had nothing to lose. At the end of the day all the other guys were riding for the GC, marking each other, they knew they had to take time on rivals. There were so many other situations going on and Simon had to stay calm, pick his moment and go for it. And didn't he do that.."
Yates added that he hopes he can replicate the performance going forward on what is sure to be a brutal final week of the Giro as the race hits the Alps and Dolomites.
"I hope the legs stay as good as today. Today was a really big effort, not just for me but for everybody. The gaps are enormous, so if this heat sticks around it's going to be a very hard final week."
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.