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Yates wins Valenciana’s queen stage in scintillating summit finish

Briton beats Valverde up steep final kick while Izagirre takes race lead with only one stage remaining.

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Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked twice on the steep 4.2-kilometer finale to take stage 4 of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Saturday. He led home Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and a group of select climbers.

Astana’s Ion Izagirre crossed the line in fourth and took the overall race lead in the process.

“It feels good,” said Yates of his victory. “I’ve had a really good off-season, I’ve been really consistent with my training and doing everything correct and it just goes to show when you commit like that everything comes together so it is a really good feeling.”

Stage 4 was hilly all day, with four categorized climbs sprinkled through the 188km route, and the punchy final climb to the line at Alcossebre including several pitches well over 10 percent.

Burgos-BH controlled the race early on as they looked to protect Diego Rubio’s lead of the king of the mountains classification. A break eventually formed, made up of Rubio, Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale), and João Rodrigues (W52-FC Porto), with Rubio taking the points for the first two summits, sealing his place in the climber’s jersey in the process.

With Edvald Boassen Hagen leading the overall, Team Dimension Data controlled the pace of the peloton.

The breakaway eventually splintered, leaving just Dilllier out front with 30km remaining. Despite being the last man standing, the Swiss rider battled on to the final climb, holding the peloton at bay as Team Dimension Data and Mitchelton-Scott started to up the pace. As the bunch hit the foot of the climb and Movistar started to add weight to the chase, Dillier was swallowed up.

Attacks went as soon as the climb started, with the inconsistent gradients making it hard to control. Yates made the first meaningful move, drawing out a select group of others, including Valverde, Izagirre, Pello Bilbao (Astana), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), and Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates). Race-leader Boasson Hagen was soon left behind as the climbers took the reins.

Herrada made a brief move in the final kilometer before Yates went again to overhaul the Spaniard. Valverde followed but didn’t have the legs to accelerate past, leaving the Briton to take his first victory since the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné. Valverde came second on the same time, with Bilbao finishing third, two seconds later.

“The run-in was always tricky,” said Yates. “I’ve done it before at the Vuelta a España so I knew how tricky it was. I knew how steep the climb was and I just had to pace my effort and that’s what I did.

Izagirre finished fourth, leaving him seven seconds ahead of Valverde and Bilbao on the overall with only one flat stage remaining in the race.

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