Vuelta: Stage 19

With a confident ride attacking his rivals, Simon Yates finishes second on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana to extend his overall lead to one-minute 38 seconds with one difficult and decisive mountain stage to come tomorrow.

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Vuelta: Stage 19

A confident ride by stage 14 winner Simon Yates has seen him finish second on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana to extend his overall lead to one-minute 38 seconds with one difficult and decisive mountain stage to come tomorrow.

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Yates attacked the favourite’s group with 10 km remaining on the final climb to bridge across to a lead group of three riders. Eventually, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) won the stage, but Yates gained 47 seconds to Enric Mas (Quickstep Floors) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) and 1-minute seven seconds to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) on the line.

Movistar Team were motivated from the outset of the first of two final decisive stages of this year’s Vuelta as they moved immediately to the front of the peloton to control and chase any moves that dared to try off the front.  The Spanish outfit, sitting 25 seconds down on the general classification at the start of the day, eventually let a move of two gain over two minute’s advantage as the entered the final 50km but it still didn’t look hopeful they would survive to the final and they were eventually caught on the low slopes of the final climb.
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The group began to whittle down immediately on the climb, but it was Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) who was the first to attack. The Colombian was joined by George Bennett and Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).  Bennett dropped off the front as Pinot was the next to jump across keep three in the lead. Jack Haig kept the pace up just behind for Mitchelton-SCOTT and had the gap within 12 seconds when Yates attacked with 10km remaining.

Joining the trio in the front, Simon shouldered a lot of the work as Quintana dropped off to help Valverde. Pinot also joined in and assisted with the workload in the hunt for his second stage win. There was no cooperation in the chase behind and Adam Yates patrolled the unorganised chase for Mitchelton-SCOTT in case of a regrouping.

Eventually, Pinot sprinted to the stage victory with Yates in second place for extra bonus seconds on top of those made over the line.

Simon Yates:“I felt good, I felt good myself which is why I tried, the team did a fantastic job again, Jack Haig did a good ride to really set me up before I went away and Adam was behind in case I came back. We did fantastic job. I have to thank Thibaut for helping me a lot in the final, of course he could have sat on and not helped, so chapeau, you don’t forget things like that very fast”.

“We didn’t really have any plan today, just to see how we felt, keep control and calm and I was. When you feel good you have to try sometimes so I did. There is only one more day to go, we really need to focus on that now, we will enjoy this moment but it is not over for another day. I know too well in one-day everything can change so we will try to recover and give it everything to try and win the race now. I will just try to stay focussed now, it is not over until it is over.”

Alejandro Valverde: “It was a very difficult day for me. We went out to try and win this one, but sometimes you win and some other you don’t. The rivals were simply stronger than me; it is what it is, you’ve got to accept it. We struggled, we lost some seconds, but we’re still in 2nd place, we’re still in contention, and that’s what matters in the end. When Yates attacked, I tried to stay behind Carapaz to see if it was possible for Richard to close that gap. However, it turned out too fast for the two of us, two difficult. Despite the help from Nairo, I ended up cracking a little bit at the end. Sadly, your body doesn’t respond always like you want it to. It’s obvious that the final red jersey is further for us now than it was this morning, but we won’t settle. Saturday’s is a stage where anything can happen: you can win, you can lose even more time – it’s another tough day.”

Nairo Quintana: “We had to give it a try at the very least. We spent all energy that we had for today, but regrettably, the result wasn’t what we expected. Our plan was to try and put the leader and his team into difficulty, while staying with Alejandro. We had talked through it before and during the stage, we carried out our plan. However, once Yates attacked and opened that gap, I waited to support him and keeping Yates from taking a bigger advantage. There’s still tomorrow. It was really demanding for our bodies today and surely many riders who aren’t so close on the GC will do their best to improve tomorrow. It will be an interesting stage – I don’t know if we will see any riders cracking hard, but there’s long climbs, huge elevation gains. One who has a strong team-mate by his side will try to use him, but otherwise, you’ve got to give your 100%, because it all comes down to that stage.”

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) : “La Vuelta was already a success on Sunday (after the victory at Lagos de Covadonga). I had come without pressure. I didn’t have the general classification in my mind, I wanted to win stages. The first victory, it was already very good. And now, two victories, it allows me to hammer it down. It’s a dream Vuelta. I wanted to enjoy myself and I proved I was able to win head to head with the strongest climbers. I had ticked those two stages. Today, the climb was longer and not as steep, it suited my abilities better. And I enjoyed a strong ascent from Simon Yates to go get the victory. He proved he was the strongest today.”

La Vuelta a Espana – Stage 19 Results:
1. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) 3:42
2. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:05
3. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0:13

General classification after stage 19:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 76:44:41
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 1:38
3. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) 1:58



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