Simon Yates reveals he was chasing the breakaway and didn’t realise Egan Bernal was dropped

The Brit gain timed on his rivals, but said he wasn’t trying to distance Bernal

Simon Yates on the attack on stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia
Simon Yates on the attack on stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Getty Imaged)

Simon Yates has revealed he was chasing the breakaway when he attacked on stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, and that he didn’t realise Egan Bernal had been dropped.

The British Grand Tour contender went on the offensive with his BikeExchange team setting the pace early in the day, before Yates attacked 3km from the summit of Sega di Ala.

Yates gained a chunk of time on his general classification contenders, but said he didn’t know Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) had lost contact.

Speaking after the finish, Yates said: “I was already going full gas, I don’t even realise [Bernal] was dropped until a bit later. 

“I was already going full gas so it’s not like I could try and accelerate more to extend the gap.”  

Yates has been an unknown quantity in this year’s Giro, riding under the radar in the first week with many speculating he was using conservative tactics early in the race.

But after revealing he’d had some undisclosed problems in the opening stages, climbed to second place at the end of the middle week, before he then lost time on stage 16 to Cortina d’Ampezzo. 

Yates has now climbed back onto the podium after stage 17, as he gained almost a minute on Bernal, but he still sits 3-23 off the race lead.

>>> Egan Bernal: If I win the Giro d'Italia with one second or two minutes for me it would be the same

After the finish, he revealed his team had missed the breakaway and that he had been pursuing a stage win: “We missed the breakaway and I wanted to have a go for the stage.

“By the time the break had gone there was only 60km before the first climb - It wasn’t like we had to ride 200km on the front and burn all the team. They did a great job, chapeau to them.”   

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Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.