Yates slipped from his red jersey lead to 3-22 minutes behind new race leader Jesús Herrada (Cofidis). He still maintains one second on his nearest rival Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who sits third overall, and 14 seconds on Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in fourth.
"Exactly," Yates said when asked if it was a calculated move. "And the guys had a hard day yesterday, at least in the first half, trying to control it and we didn't want another day like that today. We didn't want another day like that because the weekend is very filthy. We did what we needed to do today."
The Mitchelton-Scott team with Yates decided to let the breakaway to ride free for the stage win in Mañón along the Costa Verde in Galicia. They looked to Movistar, who has Valverde and Quintana right behind Yates, to take control.
Spaniard Herrada finished 16th at 2-32 behind stage winner Alexandre Geniez (Ag2r La Mondiale), but 9-07 ahead of Yates.
The move showed one of the lessons Yates learned from the Giro d'Italia in May. He wore the leader's pink jersey for 13 days, but not when it mattered in Rome. He cracked on stage 19 and Chris Froome (Sky) rode to the final overall win two days later.
"Yes, I guess so," Yates said of his Giro lessons learned. "I had a very different approach there though, and also a different mindset going into the Giro. I arrived ready from day one to give it everything and here it's very different, I have an eye on the World Championships also."
Yates and his twin brother Adam Yates are expected to help lead Great Britain in the Innsbruck, Austria, World Championship road race on September 30. The twin bothers both excel in one-day races, with Simon Yates last winning the GP Indurain in 2017.
However, the team will not let a "dangerous" Herrada too far on the leash in the coming mountain days.
"Of course [he's dangerous], he's a very good rider, we know that already, but it's a very long way to go," Yates said. He reflected on the La Camperona climb that he rode in 2016. It ends the first of three mountain days coming up in the country's north.
"It was very hard, much steeper than what it says in the book, but yeah, the climb is hard," Yates added. "We'll see how it goes. Maybe I'll lose more time tomorrow."
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