Adam Yates attacks to win the final stage of Itzulia Pais Vasco and take the mountains jersey
After finishing consistently high all week, Adam Yates finally got the chance to throw his hands in the air with a final stage victory today in Itzulia Pais Vasco, after making it into a winning move, before attacking in the final three-kilometres to take a solo victory.
Yates also picked up some valuable mountains points throughout the short stage to secure the overall mountains classification and move up to fifth place overall, rounding up a good week for Mitchelton-SCOTT in the Basque country.
A large bunch jump away
Within the first 20kilometres of the race a group of 18riders broke off the front of the bunch with Damien Howson in the move representing Mitchelton-SCOTT. The group gained a small advantage of just one-minute with the peloton staying very attentive behind.
As the race headed towards the first category climb of the day, Azurki, with 67kilometres to go, the race situation quickly changed on the narrow rolling roads and the breakaway riders were all swallowed up as the road headed north.
Mitchelton-SCOTT remained with numbers at the front, before Yates saw a dangerous group of riders trying to get away and was quick to react, jumping across towards the top of the climb.
Five stay ahead
The move was successful with Yates finding himself at the head of the race, however, the Brit was outnumbered alongside two UAE riders, Dan Martin and Tadej Pogacar and two riders from Astana Pro Team, Jakob Fulgsang and Ion Izagirre.
Despite a hard chase behind from the race leading team Bora-Hansgrohe, the five leaders extended their advantage out to two-minutes and maintained their distance for the final 40kilometres of the stage.
Yates headed over two important first category climbs in first position which secured him enough points to claim the mountain classification before turning his attention to the stage win. After a few attacks, the five leaders completed all the climbs together and headed towards the final flat five-kilometres as one group.
Yates waited patiently before picking his moment to attack with just three-kilometres to go. It looked as though the gap wasn’t big enough to be able to stay away with Astana chasing hard, but once he entered the twisty, technical last kilometre, it proved to be enough to hold off the chase and take the stage victory by just one-second on the line.
“Today we knew it was the last chance to win and I think Astana had the idea they wanted to win the GC.
“It was a crazy day, just like yesterday, the pace was super high all day and I think when Bora had the lead, teams like Astana knew they really had to push the pace to drop these guys, so they had to start early.
"With 65kilometres to go, the pace was super hard and luckily I had some teammates there to really push the pace. Then from there on the five of us worked well and it was just in the final when I attacked and managed to stay away to win, so it was a really great day."
Julian Dean - Sport Director
“It was always going to be a key day today being a short stage and aggressive with lots of climbs in close succession. So it was always our aim to make the day as difficult as possible. When it gets difficult is when Adam seems to be flourishing at the moment, so that was our tactic and we were able to profit form it.
“Our objective was to finish on the podium and win a stage, we won a stage and just missed the podium and it was good that the guys were able to overcome that first road stage when Adam punctured. They were able to keep fighting on and still try to achieve the goals that we set out to at the start. It is signs of a real good quality group.”
Itzulia Pais Vasco - Stage 6 Results:
1. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2:59:46
2. Daniel Martin (UAE) +0:01
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) +0:01
Itzulia Pais Vasco - Final General Classification:
1. Ion Izagirre (Astana Pro Team) 19:24:09
2. Daniel Martin (UAE) +0:29
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) +0:36
5. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:51