British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete Simon Yates won stage six of the Tour of Britain, the 21 year old from Bury beating the world’s best climbers on the final ascent to Haytor.
Yates found himself in the elite group of front runners containing 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins and 2013 Tour de France runner up Nairo Quintana but outpaced them all with a perfectly timed late attack to take stage win of his career on the mountain top finish in Dartmoor.
The victory came after Liam Holohan, Martin Velits and Angel Madrazo, the remnants of a day-long break that also contained Ian Wilkinson and Kristian House, were swept up as the race passed through Bovey Tracey and onto the final climb.
"It’s one of my best victories – to win a stage of my national tour. With the company that was there. Yeah, you can’t get much better."
Madrazo, who dominated the day’s KoMs, was quickly swept up along with Velits and Holohan and the attacks began, with Bardiani’s Pirazzi and Bongiorno both having a tilt for victory along with pre-stage favourites Dan Martin and Nairo Quintana. None of the big favourites could make anything stick, with the relentless pace of Wiggins and his lieutenant David Lopez reeling them back in.
At the top Lopez attacked and looked to be about to profit from a day supporting the race leader but Yates sprung from the group and got the jump on Lopez, sprinting away to take the stage.
After the race, Yates spoke to ITV4:
“It’s one of my best victories – to win a stage of my national tour. With the company that was there. Yeah, you can’t get much better.
“I just hoped for a good position as I hit the climb and people just started to fall away. Dan Martin and Quintana started to attack and slowly it started to whittle down. I know I have quite a fast kick but I still didn’t believe it until I looked behind a few metres before the line.”
“I had good legs most of the day. I just made it to the final hill and then went as hard as I could from there.
“I’ve got the worlds soon so hopefully I can do well there and then turn pro. We’ll see.”
Sir Bradley Wiggins finished a few seconds back on Yates and increased his lead in the general classification with just two stages in Surrey and London to come.
Wiggins crossed the line seventh and was pleased with how the South West stage had gone.
"It was actually pretty good, it was a short stage with good weather. We seemed to be in control most of the day and then it pretty much all came down to the final climb really. The team took the strain and then it was just a case of time trialling to the top for me really.”
The 2012 Tour de France champion also admitted he'd considered going for the win on Dartmoor.
"I did at one point but then I decided not to be too greedy and just focus on the jersey more than anything really. I should have won yesterday really thinking about it, but again the priority is always the GC when you're in the jersey.”
Simon Yates stage victory elevated him to third in the general classification, just 1'06" behind overall leader Wiggins with IAM Cycling's Martin Elmiger moving up to second position.
Yates is also now 9'40" ahead of Alistair Slater in the young riders contest and lies in second in the points classification behind Elmiger.
1. Simon Yates (GBR) 3h23’43”
2. Martin Elmiger (IAM) @ 2”
3. David Lopez Garcia (SKY) @ 2”
4. Sergio Pardilla Bellon (MTN) @ 5”
5. Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM) @ 5”
Provisional General Classification:
1. Sir Bradley Wiggins (SKY) 24h 10’55”
2. Martin Elmiger (IAM) @ 32”
3. Simon Yates (GBR) @ 1’06”
4. David Lopez Garcia (SKY) 1’08”
5. Sergio Pardilla Bellon (MTN) 1’16”