Leader Simon Yates says his lack of a clear advantage means he cannot lose focus in the battle for the Vuelta a Espana. The Mitchelton-Scott rider went into Monday’s final rest day 26 seconds clear of 2009 winner Alejandro Valverde, with the Spaniard’s Movistar team-mate Nairo Quintana a further seven seconds adrift.
La Vuelta resumes on Tuesday with a 32.7km time-trial from Santillana del Mar to Torrelavega and Yates is expected to put time into his rivals due to his superiority against the clock.
However, having led going into the third week at this year’s Giro d’Italia only to fall away, the 26-year-old knows the perils of sitting top of the General Classification in a Grand Tour.
With five days of racing between now and the processional final stage into Madrid, the Lancastrian says the quality of the field and his lack of a clear advantage means he cannot afford to lose focus.
“I felt good [on the climbs], but the gaps are still small, the GC is really close, I’m not really dominating,” Yates said.
He added on his rivals: “They are all really close, the differences are only a few seconds. That may continue, and the time trial may well be very important.”