Vuelta a Espana: Briton Simon Yates says taking overall lead a 'surprise'

Simon Yates
Simon Yates finished stage nine two minutes and 49 seconds behind winner Benjamin King

Vuelta a Espana leader Simon Yates said being in the leader's jersey is becoming a "bit familiar" after topping the general classification in Spain.

The 26-year-old Briton finished ninth on Sunday's ninth stage but took the Vuelta's red jersey by one second ahead of Movistar's Alejandro Valverde.

In May, Yates led the Giro d'Italia for 13 days but he cracked on stage 19 when eventual winner Chris Froome attacked.

"It is a bit of a surprise, but I am happy," said Mitchelton-Scott's Yates.

"Being in the leader's jersey is becoming a little bit familiar and of course I am very happy, but it wasn't expected."

Yates had looked on course to achieve his best Grand Tour result at the Giro, but faded to 21st. He finished sixth at the Vuelta in 2016, and won the best young rider jersey when finishing seventh at last year's Tour de France.

He started stage nine of this year's race in fourth place, on a day where an 11-strong breakaway group built a lead before American Benjamin King sealed his second stage win of the race.

Yates crossed the line two minutes and 49 seconds down on King and said he would spend Monday's rest day formulating a "game plan" for the rest of the 21-stage race.

"I will have to sit down with the team and discuss how we approach being in the jersey over the next few days," he said.

"It's difficult to say what I learned from the Giro d'Italia because I still don't know why I cracked and if I did I would have learned a very valuable lesson, but we don't know yet and that's OK because every race is different.

Monday is a rest day and the race resumes with Tuesday's flat stage from Salamanca to Fermoselle.

Stage nine result

1. Benjamin King (USA/Dimension Data) 5hrs 30mins 38secs

2. Bauke Mollema (Ned/Trek-Segafredo) +48secs

3. Dylan Teuns (Bel/BMC) +2:38

4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro) +2:40

5. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) Same time

General classification

1. Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) 36hrs 54mins 52secs

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +1sec

3. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +14secs

4. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger/Bora) +16secs

5. Ion Izagirre (Spa/Bahrain-Merida) +17secs


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