Yates out of Giro d'Italia GC race after dropping 11 minutes on Blockhaus
Briton suffered with heat as well as knee pain following stage 4 crash
Simon Yates' GC challenge at the Giro d'Italia came to an abrupt end on the race's second summit finish of Blockhaus on Sunday, the Briton finishing 11:15 down on stage 9 after dropping 12km from the line.
The BikeExchange-Jayco leader had enjoyed a strong start to his Giro campaign, winning the stage 2 time trial in Budapest and coming away from the first mountain test on Mount Etna as the highest-placed GC contender in the overall standings.
However, a crash early on that same stage had left Yates with a knee injury, which he was aiming to recover from day by day. He was among several riders to fall early in the stage as the peloton raced through a small town in Sicily, but he recovered to finish among the GC group on Etna.
On Blockhaus, however, he wasn't able to contend with the best climbers, instead finishing in 34th place and falling out of the GC battle for good.
"I've lost the race," Yates concluded dejectedly to the assembled press after finishing the stage. "It's causing me a lot of problems, so I stopped trying to hide it.
"It wasn't my only problem today. I really struggled in the heat again. That's how it goes, guys. I gave my all and that's it."
Yates had headed into the Giro in great form after winning two of three stages at the Vuelta Asturias. However, he suffered in the heat and was dropped badly on stage 2, a portent of what was to come on Sunday.
He said he was still hopeful of achieving something during stage 9, but noted that he had been in a lot of pain since the crash.
"I was hopeful of still being able to try and do something, but I've been in a lot of pain since Etna, so I've been trying to manage it as best as possible. But like I said, it wasn't my only problem today. I also suffered in the heat so yeah..."
Yates added that he would wait and see how he recovers from the travails of Blockhaus during Monday's rest day before deciding his future in the Giro d'Italia. There will, at least, be no immediate decision on withdrawing from the race or not.
"We'll see what happens now," he said. "We've got the rest day and I'll see how I pull up from the stage today. I don't know yet."
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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.