The Scotsman

Yates grabs Vuelta lead as Greipel wins opening Tour of Britain stage


Britain’s Simon Yates took the overall race lead at the Spanish Vuelta yesterday as American rider Ben King won the mountainou­s ninth stage.

Yates (Michelton-scott) finished ninth on the stage and that was enough for the Englishman to claim the leader’s red jersey from Rudy Molard, who had led the race for four flat stages but faded early on the brutal last ascent to La Covatilla.

Yates leads Alejandro Valverde by one second, with Valverde’s Movistar teammate Nairo Quintana 14 seconds back.

King (Dimension Data) stayed ahead of the chasing Bauke Mollema on a long breakaway to win the 201-kilometre stage that started in Talavera de la Reina and crested three categorise­d passes before the final uphill push. King also won the fourth stage for his first Grand Tour stage win at the age of 29.

Today is the first of two rest days in the three-week race.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Andre Greipel claimed the honours on the opening stage of the Tour of Britain in Newport.

Greipel (Lotto Soudal) beat Australia’s Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton Scott) and Fernando Gaviria (Quickstepf­loors) in a bunch sprint at the end of the 174.8-km stage from Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthen­shire.

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and his Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, the four-time Tour de France champion competing at his national tour for a first time since 2009, both finished safely in the pack, on the same time as Greipel. Froome was 64th and Thomas 77th.

Cardiff’s Thomas, racing on home roads, has been enjoying his yellow jersey success but was determined to put on a show. The 32-year-old attacked on the day’s final climb, but was joined by Julien Alaphilipp­e and another Quickstep-floors rider, Bob Jungels. Luxembourg’s Jungels forged on as his fellow escapees were reeled in but he was caught with 1km to go as the sprinters’ teams found their formation, with Greipel emerging victorious for a first win since May.

Today’s second stage is the 174.9km route in Devon from Cranbrook to Barnstaple.

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