MADRID (AFP) – Britain’s Simon Yates, of the Mitchelton team, took back command of the Tour of Spain after a gutsy ride on stage 14 handed the Englishman the victory on Saturday.
Yates, who held the red jersey from stages nine to 11, broke free from a splintering group of frontrunners on the winding, technical finish to solo over the line in triumph.
Astana rider Miguel Angel Lopez was second at just a couple of seconds behind with Movistar veteran and 2009 champion Alejandro Valverde in third place.
“I’m a bit happier now, I feel more like I deserve it this time,” Yates said.
“I gave everything I could, I’m very happy.
“I chose my moment really well and didn’t look back until it flattened out a little. There was a bit of a gap, so I just gave everything to the line.”
Yates now leads Valverde by 20 seconds in the overall standings, with the Spaniard’s teammate Nairo Quintana third at 25 seconds.
“I’m left with the feeling that I could have won,” Valverde said, a key protagonist when it came to chasing down a threatening attack by Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto-LNL) inside the closing kilometres.
“It was going very well but I do not want to take anything away from Simon who has been a deserving winner.
“We are very close in the general classification, all the rivals, and that is good, there is a lot of excitement for the race tomorrow, which can be a very decisive day.”
Earlier, a six-rider breakaway found a surprise leader in Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski, who made his move with 35km left.
But Kwiatkowski fell away, reined in by Valverde, Quintana and Yates, the latter exploding up the twisting Alto Les Praeres and away from the Movistar pair to the line.
Former race leader Jesus Herrada had dropped off around the descent of the Mozqueta and the Spaniard, of Cofidis, never really recovered.