Si­mon Yates poised to win first Grand Tour

The Freeman - - SPORTS -

ANTUARIO DE CANOLICH, An­dorra — English rider Si­mon Yates is poised to win his first Grand Tour ti­tle af­ter he suc­cess­fully de­fended his lead in the Span­ish Vuelta through Satur­day's 20th stage.

Yates will take his ad­van­tage of one minute and 46 sec­onds, over En­ric Mas into the fi­nal stage, when race cus­tom dic­tates the rid­ers don't at­tack the race lead­ers on the tra­di­tional ar­rival to Madrid.

"I've made it! It's still sink­ing in," said Yates, who rides for Mitchel­tonS­cott.

"I'm in­cred­i­bly proud. I'm also in­cred­i­bly proud of the team. They've car­ried me for these en­tire three weeks. It's the first Grand Tour for the team. It's just un­be­liev­able."

Mas moved into sec­ond place over­all with the stage vic­tory. The Spa­niard edged Miguel An­gel Lopez of Colom­bia at the fin­ish of the short but in­cred­i­bly de­mand­ing 97-kilo­me­ter route in the tiny na­tion of An­dorra tucked in the Pyre­nees Moun­tains. Rid­ers faced a con­stant up-and-down route over six cat­e­go­rized climbs in­clud­ing a fin­ish atop the be­yond-cat­e­gory Coll de la Gal­lina.

An­dorra is where Yates and his twin brother Adam Yates are based. Adam helped Si­mon with­stand the fast pace set by Lopez's As­tana team mid­way through the stage, then Si­mon at­tacked on the fifth climb to en­sure he kept the red jer­sey.

Ale­jan­dro Valverde en­tered the stage in sec­ond place, but he with­ered un­der Yates' at­tack and the pur­suit by the other top rid­ers. The 38-yearold vet­eran fell to fifth place in the over­all stand­ings.

World ranked No.2 Timur Imamet­di­nov and Nina Bez­zubova of Ger­many dur­ing the WDSF Cebu Open 2018 held at the Water­front Cebu City Ho­tel and Casino last Septem­ber 8.

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