Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Wallays wins flat stage, Yates holds lead

AP, LLEIDA, Spain

A man on Thursday slices a piece of Iberian cured ham while sitting on a bicycle on top of a van as he waits for the La Vuelta peloton to pass on its way to Lleida, Spain.

Photo: AFP

Jelle Wallays on Thursday won the Spanish Vuelta’s flat 18th stage, while Simon Yates held on to the overall lead ahead of two decisive days in the Pyrenees.

Wallays produced a long breakaway attack before edging out Sven Erik Bystrom and world champion Peter Sagan to win the 186km leg from Ejea de los Caballeros to Lleida in just under four hours.

The Belgian rider said the victory made up for not being selected by his Lotto Soudal team for the Tour de France in July.

“I worked very hard to be selected for the Tour de France,” Wallays said. “I didn’t go there and then I worked for a stage win at La Vuelta and I got it. It’s fantastic.”

Yates kept the red jersey for a fifth consecutive day and eighth day in total.

He leads former Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde by 25 seconds.

Yates called the uneventful stage, which came a day after he lost time to Valverde in a grueling mountain test, “the easiest so far.”

He also said he would feel at home when the race has its last two key stages on the slopes of the tiny nation of Andorra in the Pyrenees.

“I’ve been living in Andorra for most of my professional career, since 2015,” the British rider said. “I know the climbs very well. I think the two coming stages are going to be very difficult. I’m just trying to do my own race; I think I can win.”

Yesterday’s 154km stage starting in Lleida was flat until an uphill finish. That is to be followed by today’s short, but demanding, ride over six categorized climbs.

The Grand Tour is to finish tomorrow with its arrival into Madrid where riders honor the custom of not challenging the leader.

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