After the breakaway was allowed the freedom to contest for stage honours by the peloton behind it, 22-year-old Yates followed an attack by Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) on the final climb. The Briton was looking strong with 3km to go, but ran out of legs to follow the Frenchman to its peak within two kilometres of the finish line.
Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) stole the victory from behind. Yates secured 10th place, 33 seconds behind the winner.
“At the end of the day I just didn’t have the legs,” said Yates, the best young rider at the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine. “I’m disappointed but at the same time I couldn’t give it anymore.
“I went into the red trying to follow Bardet and that was it really, I was going backwards from there onwards."
In addition to his 10th place finish on last night's 178.5km stage to Mende, Yates completed Stage 3, which finished with a steep climb up the Mur de Huy and featured an horrific crash, in eighth.
“There are a few more stages to come so we’ll keep trying," he said, hoping to finish further up the field.
On a week that has already seen some successful breakaways, Stage 14 had ‘winning escape’ written all over it.
22 teams with the same idea made for a nervous bunch and saw a crash in the first five kilometres that split proceedings. The peloton managed to reform as the attacks began.
A group of 24 riders got off the front but were unsettled for a period of time. Eventually, after multiple changes, 20 riders found themselves in the move of the day as the peloton accepted the combination and sat up.
Together, the breakaway rode out to an eight-minute lead and with 50km to go they still maintained six and a half minutes.
Over the first of three climbs in the last 40km, the group held its form and advantage. Shortly after, Michal Golas (Etixx-QuickStep) made a solo move as a decoy for breakaway companion and team-mate Rigoberto Uran.
With three riders in the break, FDJ was charged with the chase on the penultimate climb and on the lead-in to the final ascent. The 20-man break briefly came together on the lower slopes of the final climb but immediately numbers dropped from behind.
Bardet put in a strong attack as Yates sat on his wheel. A second attack by the Frenchman was enough to shed Yates, who began to drop back.
Over the top Bardet, was joined by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) but games between the pair saw them both caught out as Cummings flew straight past to steal the victory.
@simonyatess It's a jungle out there!! Thanks to all the fans out there on the road, you guys make it easier! #tdf #tdf2015 #oricagreenedge #109
Orica-GreenEDGE sport director, Matt White, backed the British climber on a day made for a breakaway and reiterated there are more opportunities to come for the Australian outfit.
“Like predicted it was a pretty hectic start,” said White. “There were a few teams that weren’t happy with the combination of the first break and that really forced it to split up.”
Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE) rode with Yates in the initial break but rejoined the peloton after a descent on narrow roads caused a reshuffle.
“Tactically, Simon rode perfectly,” said White. “He let others chase when it was the time to do so and he gave it his all before he came a little unstuck over the final climb.
“His chances are certainly not over, that’s for sure."
Yates has also been suffering from a cold that has sapped valuable energy from his body.