Yates takes big Giro win and eyes more gains in final two stages

Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) crossed the line atop the Alpe di Mera with his arms held aloft and a loud exclamation of joy, but after 28 seconds had elapsed, he was followed in by main rival for the overall win in Milan, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers).

104th Giro d'Italia 2021 - Stage 19

Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange attacks on Stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia Source: Getty

Yates was in a more demonstrative mood than normal with his emphatic celebration in the finishing straight, saluting his first Grand Tour stage win since 2019. The ups and downs of the 2021 Giro for the British rider from the Australian WorldTour squad had reached their zenith atop the Alpe di Mera.

“I’m really happy. The team did a fantastic job today," said Yates. "We controlled the start, rode well behind and then I finished it off. I saw the boys from INEOS were just happy to ride at tempo behind so I had a feeling they would let me go today."

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Yates was clearly happy to have taken the victory, but questions from reporters and his thoughts quickly turned to the two remaining stages and whether Yates could take back the required two minutes and 49 seconds on Bernal to pull on the pink jersey. 

“It’s still a massive gap," said Yates of Bernal's lead. "I only gained 30 seconds today and I still need nearly three minutes. It’s going to be difficult.

"Is he unbeatable? I don’t know, you tell me. But if I have the legs I’ll try again.”

The 164 kilometre stage from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta is the only mountain stage remaining, with the final day time trial on a flat route around Milan. Stage 20 has three Category 1 climbs within the final 84 kilometres of the race, peaking twice over 2,000 metres above sea level before finishing on the Alpe Motta.

“It’s a very different day, it’s a much more demanding stage from a long way out, there are longer climbs in the beginning and we go back to high altitude as well,” said Yates. “It all depends on how the race goes, I’ll see what I can do but no promises.”



It emerged on Friday that the 2018 Vuelta a Espana winner had suffered in the cold, rainy weather that battered the Giro. He also had problems with his hamstring and small cold, but appears to be reaching peak form now.

“Those problems are finally fixed and I feel great now,” said Yates, “but it’s still going to be difficult to win. The gap is very big, it’s closer to Caruso, but I will need a buffer in the time trial as he’s much better in time trials than me.”

Yates has been on the other end of this equation in the past, carrying a lead into the final few stages of the 2018 Giro d'Italia when a combination of a massive Chris Froome attack and Yates exploding saw Froome reverse a three minute and 22 second gap to his rival with a 90-kilometre solo attack. The main stumbling block will be the strength of the INEOS team, who showed again on Stage 19 that they're the strongest in the race and will be attentive to any moves from Yates.

The Giro d'Italia continues with another day in the high mountains for Stage 20 as the peloton tackles three Category 1 climbs in the finale of the stage for over 4,200 climbing metres total. Watch the racing from 2010 AEST on SBS OnDemand, with SBS VICELAND coverage starting at 2120.




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3 min read
Published 29 May 2021 at 9:40am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS