Simon Yates wins Ardennes Challenge stage race

Simon Yates wins Ardennes Challenge stage race


British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete Simon Yates won the four day Ardennes Classic, finishing the race in style by winning the final stage, also mopping up the King of the Mountains and U23 jerseys along the way.

Stage one saw Yates finish third, winning the King of the Mountains after being in front in a two-up break for the first half of the stage, based at Tintigny in the Ardennes.

Yates' teammate Joe Kelly finished a creditable 11th and Alistair Slater 93rd after a late puncture. Adam Yates, who rode with the team to enable Jon Dibben, George Atkins, Sam Lowe and Chris Latham to take part in the UCI Rutland Melton International CiCLE Classic, suffered a broken chain while the team car was in front and was forced to abandon. Owain Doull pulled out, still suffering from a recent cold. Similarly Sam Harrison pulled out early suffering from a swollen big toe. However, the event is based on points, not time, so riders are eligible to start the following day despite not completing the previous stage.

Stage two saw the world points champion continue his good form, going one better than the previous day, finishing in second place, only beaten by ex-pro Jerome Baugnies, who also won the first day leaving Yates second overall. On a testing course the race took a long time to fragment but eventually a front group of 25 came together from the 160 starters, which eventually whittled down to four on the last small circuit.

Yates attacked with two kilometres to go and only Baugnies could respond and beat Yates in the sprint to the line. Yates’ twin brother Adam won the bunch sprint. Joe Kelly and Alistair Slater also finished in that group while Owain Doull and Sam Harrison were still absent through illness and injury.

Stage three saw Yates consolidate his position, with another second place finish, moving into the overall lead with just one tough stage into Bertix left to race. Yates duly delivered, winning the final stage and taking overall victory after dropping the last of the break, Jasper Stuyvens, on the final climb to finish alone.

Stuyvens attacked the original break of 15 which also included Adam Yates and Joe Kelly from the GB squad before Simon bridged across and then left him in his wake. Adam won the sprint for third with Joe Kelly sixth.

It was a triple crown for the Yates, who also won the King of the Mountains and U23 jerseys in the process.