La Vuelta: Simon Yates takes lead at the end of first week


British rider Simon Yates managed to take command of the general classification in the Tour of Spain at the end of the first week of racing as he held firm on the final ascent in Sunday's stage nine. American rider Benjamin King won that stage from a breakaway, registering his second success at this year's event. Simon Yates was ninth in the stage classification but he took the red jersey off French rider Rudy Molard, who was unable to keep the pace of the other favourites during the final climb of the day.

Benjamin King was part of an 11-man breakaway group before deciding to break clear of them and go for a solo victory. Dutch rider Bauke Mollema tried to chase him down on the final climb of the day but eventually had to settle for second place, 48 seconds behind Benjamin King. Belgium's Dylan Teuns was third, two minutes and 38 seconds behind King. "To get one win was a dream come true," King said at the end of the stage. "I worked hard for it and made wining a Grand Tour stage a major career goal. So today was really nice to show it wasn't a random thing that first one. The team and I prepared for opportunities like this. I've never suffered like that in my life on the last climb but I'm sure it will settle in now. It's a real honour. There are more break-away days coming up I think so I'll keep looking for opportunities."

Simon Yates reached the finish 2 minutes and 49 seconds after King, but that was enough to take the general classification lead. However, the difference to second-placed Alejandro Valverde is of just one second, while third-placed Nairo Quintana is just 14 seconds behind Yates. The British rider has never won a Grand Tour, his best general classification performance was at the 2016 Vuelta, when he finished sixth. Alejandro Valverde has won this race just once, in 2009, while Nairo Quintana has won two Grand Tours before, the Giro d'Italia in 2014 and the Vuelta in 2016.

Nairo Quintana is now 6/4 at Bet365 to win the 2018 Vuelta, Simon Yates is 10/3 to win it and Alejandro Valverde is 18/1.

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