Procycling - - PREFACE -

There was a lot to like about Si­mon Yates’s win in the Vuelta a Es­paña. The best rider won, but Yates’s tac­tics and the way the race evolved kept the sus­pense in­tact to the fi­nal week­end. The Brit’s at­tack on the Coll de la Rabassa sum­mit fin­ish on stage 19 was the head­line racewin­ning ef­fort, but that was built on clever rid­ing be­fore­hand, and the con­fi­dence he could back it up on the very hard and com­pli­cated stage 20.

But what I like most about it is that it was only a few months af­ter his dra­matic, shat­ter­ing de­feat in the Giro d’Italia. In the first grand tour of the year, Yates rode a spec­tac­u­lar and ag­gres­sive race, carv­ing sec­onds out of his ri­vals seem­ingly at will in im­pro­vised, dar­ing at­tacks through the first two and half weeks. Yates and his team are still look­ing for con­crete rea­sons for his sud­den con­ces­sion of the best part of 40 min­utes on stage 19, when Chris Froome put in his own in­cred­i­ble race-win­ning ef­fort. But it’s pos­si­ble the con­stant at­tack­ing wore him down too much.

Yates could have been for­given for rid­ing a much more con­ser­va­tive race in Spain, and to an ex­tent he did, though he did make oc­ca­sional digs, as early as stage 4. But he seemed to man­age the ac­cu­mu­lated fa­tigue bet­ter in Spain than in Italy, with­out play­ing it too safe. His at­tack on the Rabassa wasn’t planned, so there’s still a lot of the im­pro­viser about Yates, it’s just that in Spain his tim­ing was a lot bet­ter.

I hope Yates still rides ag­gres­sively in the fu­ture – he’s a joy to watch in a race, be­cause his moves come from a com­bi­na­tion of in­stinct and ex­pe­ri­ence, rather than a fixed plan and de­fen­sive strat­egy. He’s also an in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter, on the sur­face straight­for­ward and un­emo­tional - the op­po­site of his rac­ing style.

He also brought Bri­tain’s run of grand tour wins to five, in­clud­ing all three this year. He’s mak­ing noises about tar­get­ing the Giro next year – who’d bet against that run ex­tend­ing to six?

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