Tour de France: Adam Yates in bonus territory as race hits third week

Orica-BikeExchange rider sees himself as an underdog

In the organised chaos that is the Tour de France, Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) is an oasis of calm. There is no stress for Yates, and he takes a 'what will happen, will happen' kind of approach to the climax of the race, telling the press on the Tour's second rest day that he is in bonus territory now.

The British rider had no intentions of fighting it out at the pointy end of the general classification but now finds himself in a podium spot with four GC days remaining. He has the level head of a rider with 10 years more experience than he and refuses to get carried away with the position he finds himself in.

"There's no pressure from the team," Yates said. "If I lose a couple of minutes then it is what it is but it's about trying to give the max every day and if it works then it works, if not and we lose a couple of minutes then we can still put on a good performance. I came to the Tour de France without any ambitions for GC; I'm at the second rest day, and I'm in third place in the GC. Anything from here is a bonus."

Yates, now in his third season as a professional, is riding just his second Tour de France after making his debut last season. Heading into the race, the team had stated their intentions of passing up the overall classification in favour of stage victories. Plans were quickly changed when Yates started attacking the big favourites in the Pyrenees. He has since backed that up with his unflappable style, only finding difficulty in the stage 13 time trial.

How he will cope with the stresses and strains of three weeks riding at that level is an unknown. Perhaps that is why many of the other big favourites overlook Yates when considering who they need to pay most attention to. Yates tends to agree.

"I think that's pretty fair. It's my first time riding GC and riding with the GC boys. I'm the underdog," he said. "Guys like [Alejandro] Valverde and [Nairo] Quintana, they've won big races in the past and these guys will be the ones that are attacking. There's also guys like Tejay van Garderen and Richie Porte, they've ridden the GC before, ridden the Tour before and had top 10s. I'm just tagging along and trying my best.

"Every day is another day of learning and another day for resting and gaining that experience for hopefully when I can race the GC from the start, and I can target the win."

Yates' Orica team are slowly turning from one made up of stage-hunters into a serious Grand Tour threat. That wasn't the case when Yates joined along with his brother Simon back in 2014. News that they had decided to opt for the Australian team came as a surprise with many expecting him and his brother to follow the same route as several other British riders and join Team Sky.

Yates has been able to flourish in the more relaxed atmosphere of the Orica-BikeExchange team and takes confidence from the recent performance of fellow rising GC star Esteban Chaves, who finished second at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year.

"For me, it has always been about being given the freedom to do what I want to an extent. As I said before, when I first joined the team we set up a plan, and we're following that plan to a tee. We'll just keep doing that and hopefully we can get some results from it," Yates explained. "I think that the plan was always to be a general classification rider, whether it is one week or three weeks.

"When I first joined the team, this was always the plan. The plan was to do Grand Tours and ride GC. We've already seen it with Esteban in both the Giro and the Vuelta, and hopefully, I can continue in his path. I hope to do Grand Tours [for the GC] in the general future. This one wasn't planned, but here we are."

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