Simon Yates missed the Tour de France and returned from a suspension to rocket to his first grand tour stage victory today when the Vuelta a España arrived in Luintra, in Spain's far northwest. He rebounded quickly, but the Orica-BikeExchange Brit says, "I worked hard and I didn't expect anything else."
Yates attacked at four kilometres out on an uphill, dropped his companion and passed the lone leader Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) at 3.6km remaining. He stayed clear over the top, descended and soloed to his biggest win up the final 800 metres. Crossing the line, he let out a roar.
He had dealt with a suspension for using an asthma medication without permission, which caused him to miss the Tour. He lined up the Vuelta to help Esteban Chaves win the overall, but was allowed a bit of space for redemption.
"I'm very happy to come back and win like this so yeah," 24-year-old Yates responded when asked if the win had made up for such a bad summer. "I worked extremely hard. Now, I want to enjoy this moment.
"I trained really hard during this period [away]. I didn't really lose anything, if I'm honest. I worked hard for this and I didn't expect anything else."
Yates came back firing with a win in the Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika, fourth overall in the Vuelta a Burgos and today, a Grand Tour victory.
This spring, he placed seventh overall in Paris-Nice, where testers spotted that he had taken Terbutaline without a Therapeutic Use Exemption or a TUE.
The Vuelta win, an opportunity granted by Chaves, quickly changed things for Yates
"I think I've been slowly progressing since I turned professional. I think this is a step. I hope to keep improving," Yates said.
"During the stage we had a plan and once a selection had been made and we were in the final stages of the race, Esteban told me that I can win the stage and that it is a good stage for me. It's great when the team leader encourages you to take the chance and I just wanted to make the most of it.
"In the final, you could see a lot of the guys were tired and that was because of the work we did in the beginning. I just wanted to make the most of my opportunities. Once I saw I had the gap, I wanted to capitalise on that move and I did everything to stay clear."
Yates also keeps the family name in the headlines after twin brother Adam Yates did so well in the Tour de France. Adam rode second overall for some time and finished the race with the white jersey and in fourth overall.
"I'm always happy when he does well and wins bike races. I've got nothing but happiness for him," Yates said. "I know I have the talent to win and I've been doing this for a long time. It pays to be patient. I'm not stressed or worried about my results in the past. I have nice results for a young guy. I'm just happy to continue this progression."
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