Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) finished the challenging stage 9 of the Tour de France in some elite company, consolidating his podium place. On one of the toughest stages so far, through Spain and into Andorra, Yates held his own against both Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome in an aggressive finale.
Yates led the duo over the line to send him into the first rest day in second overall, at just 16 seconds behind Froome. He also increased his lead to 39 seconds over Louis Meintjes in the young rider's classification.
"Yesterday I felt better but I didn't lose anything to the best rider and it makes me very satisfied," Yates said of the stage. "Today, at the beginning, it was very complicated. With the breakaway and Contador's attack, we didn't know where to look. I had no problem with the rain at the end. I actually prefer the rain that racing with 45 degrees and not being able to breathe. I'm very happy. I reach the rest day in a very good position. I just need to recover well. I'd like to win a stage but as long as I have options on GC I will follow that goal."
Yates' introduction to the mountains didn't go so well when the one kilometre to go banner deflated right on top of him on stage 7, sending him head over heels and leaving him with a few stiches in his chin. He'd looked strong before that and had been on the attack when the incident happened. His DS Matt White had been concerned how he would do after the crash but, despite the hefty blow, he appears to have no ill effects and has continued to take it to the big favourites.
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"I'm really impressed with how he's backed up after the crash. I was quite worried. Usually, the second day after a crash you pull up a bit stiff and sorer but he's pulled up quite well," White told Cyclingnews.
"Mentally he's a hard one otherwise he wouldn't have bounced back as he has done in the past few days. You saw how he handled it in the media. It was an accident, something very unfortunate and he just gets on with the job."
This is Yates' second Tour de France, after making his debut in 2015. On that occasion, he finished seventh in the young rider's classification but more than two hours down in the jersey winner Quintana. There is still a lot of climbing to do between Andorra and Paris, and the fatigue of the third week could make a difference. However, he looks much stronger and more assured that his debut 12 months ago. White was reluctant to talk about where Yates might be in two weeks' time but he's happy with how the young rider is performing thus far.
"Our next appointment is later in the week, we've got a recovery day tomorrow and then we've got a couple of flatter stages. We're going to take it day by day but it is a very good sign so far," said White. "He's done a Vuelta and a Tour de France. He's still very young but he's handling the circus that is the Tour."