24-year-old Simon Yates claimed the victory on today’s tough Queen stage in the Tour de Romandie which catapults him into the race lead with one stage remaining.
The young Brit attacked with 15kilometres to go and was able to get away in a small group ahead of the final first category climb of the day.
On the steep slopes up to the finish line, the race shattered to pieces as Richie Porte (BMC) bridged across to Yates’ group and the duo rode away into the final three kilometres.
Yates waited patiently before blasting around Porte in the closing metres to take the second stage victory of the tour for ORICA-SCOTT.
“On the final climb I knew Richie was coming across, so I didn’t want to keep pushing as I knew that when he caught me I would be empty, so I took a bit easy and waited for him to get to me,” Yates explained.
“I managed to get him in front into the final kilometre and I think that really saved me as the wind was quite strong in the finish. I am just really happy that I was able to come around him and take the victory.”
Yates now heads into the final stage of the tour with a 19second advantage over Porte and 38seconds over third place. The concluding stage is a 18.3kilometre time trial and Yates acknowledges it will be a real battle.
“I am in the race lead now and tomorrow we have the time trial,” Yates continued. “Time trialling is not really my speciality but of course I will give it my maximum and try to hold on to the lead.”
Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased with the team’s commitment and echoed Yates acknowledgement of the task ahead of them tomorrow.
“We had a long chat about the plan this morning as we knew there would be three or four riders around the mark on the final climb,” Stephens said. “Therefore we wanted to make it hard on the penultimate climb and the plan wasn’t actually for Yates to be the one to go, but he saw the opportunity and took it on which is always a great thing to do.”
“It worked out well for us today, that is our second stage win and we now lead the race.
“We know we have a big task ahead of us tomorrow, it will be difficult to win the Tour de Romandie but Simon has the legs and we are up for the challenge.”
How it happened:
Today’s Queen stage began like most of the other road stages with a breakaway establishing within the opening kilometres.
Seven riders led the way over the first climb over the day, steadily maintaining a three minute advantage.
With around 30kilometres to go, six riders including Michael Albasinitried to bridge across to the leaders, however, it proved to be too much and the junction was never made.
Eventually the lead group shrunk down to five riders as they fought over the categorised climbs and with 15kilometres to go, Yates launched and worked fiercely to try and breakaway with three other riders as they descended and barrelled down towards the tough final climb of the day.
After subsequently catching the remaining escapee riders, the group swelled to eight and they quickly opened up an lead of one minute as they began the final ascent.
With the reduced peloton shattering on the steep slopes, Porte made his move and rapidly jumped across to Yates who went on to take another victory this season for ORICA-SCOTT.
Australian results: Stage 4 Tour de Romandie 29th April
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 4:10:03
2 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:30
9 Damien Howson (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:00:52
26 Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:01:05
65 Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac 0:05:02
69 David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky 0:06:28
70 Brendan Canty (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac 0:06:28
96 Rob Power (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:14:43
128 William Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac 0:22:23
131 Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:22:36