Orica-GreenEdge’s British twins, Adam and Simon Yates will have free rein for the Tour de France’s jaunt into the Alps starting Wednesday. The 22-year-olds have both animated stages so far in this Tour demonstrating just why they are considered two of the top emerging young riders in the peloton today.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on the morning of stage 16, Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matt White was emphatic when discussing the plan with the two talents for the mountain heavy stages to come.
"Cut them off the leash, they’re off GC so they can go for it," White said of what approach the team will take with them. "Simon’s obviously back from illness but hopefully an easier day today, a rest day tomorrow. We’ll see what happens, see what the Alps brings to him.
"Adam is in good shape as we saw in the past but it’s just getting into the right break. With those guys, we are going into uncharted territories with the fatigue of the third week," White continued. "Adam did the Vuelta last year and he felt it. It’s another level up here at the Tour. They are in good shape at the moment but things can change in that last week fatigue wise, particularly with the young ones."
Before the Tour, Simon Yates was fifth overall at the Critérium du Dauphine to also earn himself the best young rider’s jersey, while Adam was third in the young rider classification and 20th overall. On the stage to Pra Loup, which the Tour replicates kilometre for kilometre Wednesday, Simon Yates was fifth, suggesting he will be a rider to watch on the 6.2km climb. A tenth place into Mende on stage 14 was the latest sign of Simon’s climbing prowess.
On the first summit finish of this year’s race to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, Adam Yates was climbing with the top general classification riders, finishing seventh and ahead of the likes of Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali to announce his arrival on the biggest stage of all.
Besides the Pra Loup experience for the duo, White added the team has been diligent in its race preparation, ensuring the riders are familiar with the climbs before racing them at speed with two-and-a-half weeks of racing in their legs.
"They’ve reconned every stage. The only stage we didn’t recon was the one that was changed [the Col du Galibier was removed from stage 20 due to road damage] but we took them over the courses, pre and post Dauphiné," White explained. "The first stage was actually used in the Dauphiné, the Pra Loup, and they’ve checked out the other stages."
With Orica-GreenEdge looking to salvage something from a Tour that has been hampered by broken bones and abandonments for Simon Gerrans, Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini, along with broken ribs for Michael Matthews, White explained the Yates’ aren’t simply targeting one stage for success.
"I don’t think they’ve too fussy," he said of their ambitions. "They just want to get down the road and try and win a stage. We also have to read the mood of the bunch and some stages are going to be more inclined for GC teams to control and others not so much so we’ll take it day-by-day."
With the general classification to reach its climax in the four Alpine stages and classifications to play out, White explained that he anticipates races within the race to come to the fore but will be backing the Yates’ quest for victory.
"I don’t think time bonuses will come too much into effect, I think teams will get desperate because they haven’t won," White said. "Teams classification is another competition that you have to take into account. It’s an important classification to win, at the moment Movistar has a handy lead and I don’t think that will change.
"Things change in the last week and some teams do some mind-boggling tactics in the last week to defend 12th or 13th place. Some funny things happen in the Alps but I think the guys have the legs, that's the main thing and are certainly trying as hard as they can.”