Simon Yates, winner of the 2018 Vuelta a España, sprinted to victory ahead of Gregor Mühlberger of Austria and Pello Bilbao of Spain on the 209.5km 12th stage of the Tour de France from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in the French Pyrenees.
The trio were the last remaining riders from a huge 42 rider break that escaped with 170km of the stage left and slowly dwindled in numbers over the first category climbs of the Col de Peyresourde and Hourquette d’Ancizan.
With the peloton of main contenders happy to let the break move ahead, Yates proved among the strongest as the 2019 Tour entered the high mountains for the first time.
The trio led over the final climb of the day and entered the final kilometre to sprint to the line. Bilbao led, with Yates at the back of the group, until launching his sprint as they entered the final curve to take a second stage win for his Mitchelton-Scott team.
Meanwhile Rohan Dennis made it back to his Bahrain Merida team bus, having gone off the radar after abandoning the race on Thursday.
Time trial world champion Dennis, one of the favourites for Friday’s individual effort against the clock, pulled out 80km from the finish of the 12th stage, organisers said.
The Australian’s team Bahrain Merida, however, were unable to locate him for over an hour, before he was spotted with his bike parked against the team bus near the finish line.
“Our priority is the welfare of all our riders so will launch an immediate investigation but will not be commenting further until we have established what has happened to Rohan Dennis,” Bahrain Merida had said in a statement.
According to French TV, Dennis was seen arguing with his team car before climbing off his bike.