Yates’ previous victory was also a summit victory, coming atop Mont Blanc in the Critérium Du Dauphiné as the 2018 Tour de France loomed into his sights. This time round, his win on the Ermita de Santa Lucía in Valencia has given him fresh motivation and a big morale boost for the whole of 2019.
Yates fended off the race’s key favourite Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) not once but twice on the brutally steep slopes of Santa Lucia. After the Mitchelton-Scott rider attacked with 1.5 kilometres to go, the world champion came across, but Yates promptly went again. Valverde followed him all the way to the line, but was unable to get round him and was forced to settle for second.
“It’s been a really good start to the year, the guys worked well. Since the beginning of season, we’ve been winning bike races,” Yates told a small group of reporters as he celebrated Mitchelton-Scott’s seventh win of 2019 and second stage of the Valenciana. “Within the team there’s a lot of good motivation and a lot of good morale, so it’s good to keep the ball rolling.
“It feels like a long time since I’ve got my hands in the air so it’s good to be back. Tomorrow [Sunday] is another stage for Matteo [Trentin] or Luka [Mezgec]. Hopefully we’ll keep the wins coming.”
Yates had a rollercoaster 2018, where his promising early spring was blighted by a big crash midway through the Volta a Catalunya which saw him fracture his pelvis. While he recovered and clinched a second place overall in the Critérium Du Dauphiné, Yates’ Tour GC bid went askew, culminating with his crash in the Pyrenees while fighting for a stage win against Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
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