Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) made a victorious return to racing on Monday, soling to victory at the Test Villafranca – Ordiziako Klasika.
The British rider hadn’t raced since exiting the Giro d’Italia through injury two months ago but, despite missing the Tour de France, kickstarted the second half of his season at the Spanish semi-Classic.
Yates won the hilly race in the Basque Country in 2016 and repeated the feat to cross the line alone on Monday, 10 seconds before Dion Smith led home the bunch to make it a BikeExchange-Jayco 1-2.
Xavier Cañellas (Java Kiwi Atlántico) claimed the final spot on the podium ahead of one of Yates’ biggest pre-race threats, Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates).
Yates made his winning move on the last of five ascents of the Alto de Abaltzisketa, the key climb on the circuit that made up the entirety of the 165km one-day race.
At 3.1km in length with an average gradient of 7.3%, and preceded on the final two laps by the Alto de Altzo (2.6km at 6.1%), it was an ideal launchpad for the explosive British climber.
He opened up a significant advantage over a bunch that was reduced to 30 riders, and zipped down the descent before holding them off in the final few kilometers to the line.
The victory is Yates’ sixth of the season after he won two stages at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Asturias, and one at Paris-Nice. Following the team’s two stage victories in the Tour de France, the one-two is another boost in BikeExchange’s battle against WorldTour relegation.
After signaling his form, Yates will remain in Spain for the Vuelta a Castilla y León on Wednesday ahead of the Clásica San Sebastián on Sunday.
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