Adam Yates took a swig of a drink and tried to ride the lactic acid out of his legs on the way to the Mitchelton-Scott team bus. After the stage 3 uphill finish in Trevi at Tirreno-Adriatico, he was also trying to cancel the disappointment of finishing second behind Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo).
The British rider accelerated hard on the steepest point of the 1.5km ramp up to the finish and tried to close down on Roglic. He seemed just about to catch him only for the Slovenian to kick again in sight of the line and finish three seconds clear. Yates could only check he was clear of the rest of the peloton and watch as Roglic celebrated further up the finish area.
"What can you do when a guy's that strong?" Yates told Cyclingnews at the Mitchelton-Scott team bus after gathering his thoughts.
"He went pretty early considering it was a steep climb, so he's obviously in good condition to hold off the bunch. I felt I went at the perfect time, just on the steep section, but I didn't get him."
Yates managed to gain a few seconds on all the other big-name overall contenders and also took a six-second time bonus. However, his chances of a podium spot or even overall success took a massive blow on Thursday when he was caught up in a crash in the final kilometres of the sprint stage to Follonica. He lost 1:13 and is still 22nd overall, 58 seconds back on new race leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
Mitchelton-Scott is hoping he can climb into the top 10 overall when Tirreno-Adriatico ends with a 10km individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday but they came to the Italian stage race with bigger ambitions, especially after gaining time on most of their overall rivals in the opening team time trial.
Yates is always realistic about his racing and has quickly changed goals. He will target a stage victory on Saturday's mountain stage to Sarnano Sottotetto and on Sunday's hilly stage to Michele Scarponi's hometown of Filottrano. While very different, Yates is suited to the 14.2km six per cent climb to the line and then the steep ramp to Filottrano.
"I lost a minute yesterday in the crash, so GC is out of the window, But we'll take it day by day like always and hopefully the good condition continues," Yates said with optimism and pragmatism.
"With a time trial at the end, I'm always going to lose 30 seconds to a minute. But we've got two more hard stages to come, so we'll see what happens."
Yates is never afraid to take on Team Sky and his other big-name rivals, especially in this spring window of stage races, when he is on form and chasing success before turning his focus to the Tour de France.
"I've been training and working hard," he said, his lean face confirming as much.
"Tirreno-Adriatico is always a big goal for me, regardless of the course or whatever. I always need to be going good in this period, when there's Tirreno, Catalunya and Basque Country. Things usually work out pretty well too.
"I don't know what else to say. I'm in pretty good shape and I just hope it continues."
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