Yates playing it sensible in bid to win Tour of Spain

Thomas ALLNUTT

Britain's Simon Yates has admitted his Mitchelton-Scott team are having to contain his aggressive streak as he bids to win the Tour of Spain.

Yates retained the red jersey on Sunday after finishing third in stage 15 ahead of Tuesday´s crucial time trial between Santillana del Mar and Torrelavega.

The 26-year-old's task is now to maintain form through the final six stages and avoid a repeat of the collapse he suffered at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, when he suddenly ran out of steam.

Yates accepts his team´s advice to conserve energy but finds it difficult to curb his attacking instincts.

"Sometimes it's hard to change your style when you've been doing that since you were a child," Yates said on Monday.

"If you have the legs and the opportunity is there, you have to take it.

"It's hard to change your mindset and be conservative. Sometimes I find it difficult but here it has been okay."

Yates had to dig deep to clinch third on Sunday, after making a series of attacks on the final, 12.2km climb.

He believes he has a point to prove in the flat 32km time-trial on Tuesday where his Vuelta hopes will face a severe test.

"I'm always confident, I think I have a great time-trial, everyone else disagrees but I've slowly been improving year on year," Yates said.

"I'll do the best I can and if I don't lose too much time then happy days."

Yates leads Spain's Alejandro Valverde by 26 seconds and Colombia's Nairo Quintana, also of Movistar, by 33 in the general classification.

Valverde capitalised on Sunday as Quintana fell away, conceding eight seconds to Yates in the process, but the Spaniard insists there is no tension in the team.

"There has been a lot of fuss around about who the team leader is, or whether there's a fight between the two of us," Valverde said.

"The real thing is that it’s been a phenomenal Vuelta for us up to this point and that we really get on well with each other and the rest of the group.

"It's really tight between the main contenders and I feel like tomorrow’s time trial could be one that makes bigger gaps than all those that we had in the last couple of mountain stages."

Quintana had been expected to emerge as Movistar's principal threat at the Vuelta but Valverde's speed could prove decisive through the 32km run to Torrelavega.

"Alejandro should be the man doing the best time-trial performance of all the main contenders and he’ll surely take advantage," Quintana said.

"After that, we’ll see how things stand before the final mountains, and how I’m feeling."