• Simon Yates crosses the finish line second on Stage 19, extending his advantage in the GC battle (AFP)Source: AFP
Just one decisive day in the Andorran mountains stands in the way of Mitchelton-Scott and their first Grand Tour victory.
Cycling Central

15 Sep 2018 - 8:25 AM 

It was far from a procession for Simon Yates in the leader's jersey as he managed to weather the storm of a split peloton and a dangerous attack on the final climb to extend his lead in the red jersey at La Vuelta a Espana.

Jack Haig was called upon to keep an attack of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Steven Kruijswijk and George Bennett (both Lotto NL-Jumbo) in check, leaving Yates to bridge over a small gap to leave main threat Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in his wake. 

He worked hard on the front of the group to put time into his rivals, sharing the burden with Pinot, who was looking for his second stage win of the race.

"I felt good," said Yates. "I felt good myself which is why I tried, the team did a fantastic job again, Jack Haig did a good ride to really set me up before I went away and Adam was behind in case I came back. We did fantastic job."

"I have to thank Thibaut for helping me a lot in the final, of course he could have sat on and not helped, so chapau, you don't forget things like that very fast."

"We didn't really have any plan today, just to see how we felt, keep control and calm and I was. When you feel good you have to try sometimes so I did.

Yates went on to finish second on the stage and now holds an advantage of a minute and thirty-eight seconds over second-placed Valverde.

Yates will be wary of over-confidence however, earlier in the year at the Giro d'Italia it looked as though Yates was in a similarly comfortable leading position, only for the British star to crack dramatically and lose time in massive chunks over the final few stages, eventually finishing 21st overall.

The Mitchelton-Scott team as a whole has had the same fate in the past, with Esteban Chaves going into the final mountain stage of the 2016 Giro with a 44 second lead, only to lose the race to Vincenzo Nibali.

"There is only one more day to go," said Yates, "we really need to focus on that now, we will enjoy this moment but it is not over for another day. 

"I know too well in one-day everything can change so we will try to recover and give it everything to try and win the race now. I will just try to stay focused now, it is not over until it is over."

La Vuelta a Espana continues tomorrow with Stage 20 in the mountains with a trip from Escalades-Engordany to Collada de la Gallina.