With cold and wet conditions affecting the 'queen' mountains stage of the WorldTour-level event, there were several crashes – one of which took out 2015 Vuelta a España winner Aru.
Yates finished in fifth place overall in last year's race, and was placed in 21st position overall going into stage five, 51 seconds adrift of general classification leader Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Early reports suggested that Yates had also suffered a crash. He had been targetting today's stage for a good performance.
Yates's brother and Orica-GreenEdge team-mate Adam remains in the race.
Along with Aru and Yates, other notable abandons during the stage included Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo).
The stage concludes with a steep ascent to Arrate, the last of the day's eight classified climbs.
The general classification will receive its final shake-up on the final stage on Saturday (April 9), a 16.5-kilometre hilly individual time trial.
More to follow...
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