On the eve of the 2017 Tour de France, the best young rider classification looked an open contest. Following the conclusion of stage 13, Orica Scott's Simon Yates is firmly in control in the race for the white jersey. The 24-year-old is also sitting seventh overall and on track for a top-ten finish in Paris.
Yates added 11 seconds to his lead over Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) with the South African now the only rider capable of challenging the Briton for the prize. Tour debutant Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), who wore the white jersey for two days, is a distant third at 8:29 minutes with Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) even further back at 14:30 minutes.
With Yates and Orica-Scott focused on securing the white jersey, 12-months after twin brother Adam won the classification, taking time whenever possible is key to the objective.
In the closing kilometres of stage 13 into Foix, Yates and Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) escaped from the yellow jersey group despite the Briton not feeling great over the final climb, the Mur de Péguère, as he added.
"I enjoy days like today where you can really get stuck in and give it a go. It was a short stage, very aggressive and I’m sure it was exciting to watch. Yesterday was more about survival because it was such a long day and you really have to worry about a lot of things and saving the legs," Yates said. "I felt OK today, I wasn’t super on the final climb but I managed to get back and then it was a heap of games between the guys down the descent in the last 30km.
"I managed to sneak away, catch Dan (Martin) and we worked well to the finish. We put a little bit of time into some guys, it was only a few seconds in the end but everything helps."
With two intermediate stages to come, followed by a rest day then a sprint day, Yates and the GC men will next be tested on stage 17 to Serre Chevalier, and then stage 18 to Col d'Izoard where he will aim to further stamp his authority in the battle for white.