Simon Yates continues Tour de France path at Tour de Romandie

'Riding the Tour was never imposed on him' says Stephens

Simon Yates' odyssey towards the Tour de France continues at the Tour de Romandie on Tuesday, with the British climber setting off on his prologue ride a shade before 4pm local time.

Yates was never meant to be at the race, having targeted the Giro d'Italia until just a few weeks ago, when a knee injury to Esteban Chaves saw the Orica-Scott team realign their set of climbers with new ambitions. For Yates, it meant scrubbing the corsa rosa from his programme and replacing it with the Tour de France, where he will provide Orica with another GC option should Chaves' knee not hold up.

The change in targets – especially at this point in the year – ensures both a physical and mental reassessment is needed and, although Orica announced their re-shuffle last week, talks were taking place for several weeks before that.

"It's not easy, but it's taken a few conversations and there's been some back and forth with the opinions of everyone taken in before anything happened," Orica's director at Romandie, Neil Stephens, told Cyclingnews.

"By the time we got to the decision stage, the work had been done. This isn't something that's been imposed on Simon. It was suggested to him, and we've talked about it and that's the way we've come out of it. It's a decision that's been made as a group. It wasn't imposed on him."

Yates' new programme saw him race at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and he struggled over the terrain to finish outside of the top 100 positions. More is certainly expected of him here in Switzerland, at a race in which he took sixth back in 2015.

"This comes at the end of the block. He performed well at the Tour of the Basque Country. He didn't perform that well at Liège-Bastogne-Liège but from here he gets ready for the Tour de France. He's hopefully here for GC. Maybe last Sunday was a glitch but the main idea for this race is GC," Stephens added.

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