On his first Tour de France summit finish, Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) lived up to the hype that has surrounded the Orica-GreenEdge rider since his professional debut at the start of the 2014 season. The 22-year-old started the race with the ambition of stage wins and the general classification a secondary goal and proved on the Tour’s first ever finish at La Pierre Saint Martin he will be a rider to watch over the remaining 11 stages in the race.
With Orica-GreenEdge taking a relaxed approach to the stage 9 team time trial ahead of the first rest day, Yates explained his ‘fresh’ legs were key to his seventh place on the climb ahead of former Tour winners Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
While unable to match the savage pace of countryman Chris Froome (Team Sky), when he launched the stage-winning move, Yates recognised the significance of his result but couldn’t help but feel disappointed to have lost time.
“Yeah it was pretty difficult, I lost two minutes. I was seventh on the stage so for my first Tour de France it’s a pretty good result,” he said. “Congratulations to Froome, I think for sure with that performance he’s by far the strongest. In my opinion, he’s going to win the Tour.”
With Orica-GreenEdge losing Simon Gerrans, Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini to broken bones in the first week, Adam and his brother Simon offer salvation to the team after the disastrous first week in which Michael Matthews also crashed and has since been riding with broken ribs.
Feeling the pinch of the high pace being set by Team Sky, Yates explained he was quick to drop back and ride at his own comfortable rhythm to ensure he didn’t drop into the red.
“I rode at my own pace and made my way back up. I caught up to [Tony] Gallopin and we worked together to catch the other guys but I think I could go much harder than that. I was going pretty much full gas,” he said.
“When you’re in the group on the final climb you do what you can, there’s nothing the director is going to say that is going to make you improve 400 watts, so you do what you can.”
Despite being one of the youngest riders in the race and making his grand tour debut, Yates was quick to state he is not intimidated by the level of riders at the Tour with a stage win remaining an achievable goal.
“I think its pretty similar to any other race, there’s just a little more stress coming into the bottom of the climb,” he said. “There are a couple of more stages so hopefully I can get up there and take a win.
“I thought at the beginning of this tour that a stage win was always possible. I think in the past I’ve shown that I can climb with some of the best guys in the word when I am on a good day.”