Vuelta a Espana

Simon Yates blasts back into Vuelta lead

Yates in the lead ahead of crucial stage 15 to Lagos de Covadonga. He is carefully pacing himself to avoid late-race meltdown.

LES PRAERES, Spain (VN) — Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) shot back into the Vuelta a España’s red jersey today with an attack in the final kilometer on stage 14 to Les Praeres.

Yates marked attacks by Colombians Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Miguel Angel López (Astana) at a distance. When he clawed them back, it was his turn to move on the new finishing climb.

“I knew nothing of the climb, except for a video that I watched and a few pictures that I saw this morning,” the Englishman said.

“That’s why I was very conservative at the bottom because I wasn’t sure if the climb was much steeper or shallower, so it was difficult to judge the effort. I stayed calm and waited for the moment to attack.”

Yates edged his way into the Vuelta lead five stages ago. He wanted to wait to until later in the race to take the lead overall and was happy to let it go to Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) a few days later.

Once Herrada drifted away on the difficult roads around Asturias today, Yates had his turn again. “I tried to do my own race. [Movistar] had a big advantage in numbers, which I was a bit nervous about,” Yates said. “It was OK. I did my own race and I chose my own moment to attack.”

The 2018 Vuelta a España is deep into the second week now. Yates led the Giro d’Italia this May for 13 days but slipped out of the lead when he cracked in stage 19. He wants to make sure that he measures his efforts right in the Spanish tour.

The Les Praeres climb debuted this year in the Vuelta a España. It is one of the new summit finishes, along with Balcón de Bizkaia, that organizer Unipublic brought in for 2018. It marked the end of a hard stage 14, but comes as a first course to what is seen as tomorrow’s harder stage, which finishes at Lagos de Covadonga.

Stage 15 covers 178.2km, with a summit finish on the 11.7km Lagos de Covadonga climb. It ends the Vuelta’s second week ahead of a rest day and the final run to Madrid. Not only tomorrow, but many hard days remain.

“I actually prefer the ones that are much longer,” Yates said. “Days like today are very hard to do, because you’re very close to the limit, the red line. Whereas, on a longer climb, you can really judge your effort a bit more. You’re more in control. I prefer the longer ones.”