He claims that there is only pressure from himself when it comes to racing the Giro d’Italia but Adam Yates is determined to produce back-to-back performances at Grand Tours when he competes in the first three-week race of the season in May.
Yates, who finished fourth in the Tour de France last year and won the best young classification, heads to the Corsa Rosa alongside his twin brother Simon, and together they will spearhead Orica-Scott’s GC bid. Success at such a prestigious and difficult race is a formidable challenge, especially with a string of more experienced rivals set to line up at the 100th edition of the event.
“As long as I’m in the top ten that’s fine,” Adam told Cyclingnews when asked about his ambitions.
“I’ve only ridden GC once in a Grand Tour. It’s not like I’ve come fourth in the Tour and now I’m going to challenge for the win at the Giro. I’d love to be up there and challenging for the win but it’s way too early to be making these big calls and say ‘I want to do this, and I want to do that’. If I’m top ten, that’s an achievement.”
Back-to-back performances would certainly strengthen Yates' position in the team and show progression for a rider who is still within the age parameters for the best young rider classifications. In the Tour de France last year he took a measured approach in the mountains but was consistent throughout the race. That mindset will serve him well in May but he is well aware that the Giro d'Italia is a far different beast to tame than the Tour de France.
“On television the Giro looks more demanding. I wouldn’t say that the Tour is less predictable but everyone there works for one goal, whereas at the Giro you have more second tier guys who aren’t afraid to have a go and create carnage. I’ve not raced there before, or in Italy that much, apart from Tirreno-Adriatico, but we’ll go there and see what happens.”
The goal is long-term development
Whatever plays out, Yates and his Orica-Scott team have spent months plotting their path to the Giro. With Esteban Chaves also on the team’s books, the management had the tough but enviable task of dividing up their Grand Tour ambitions. In the end the Colombian was dispatched towards France, where he will go head-to-head with Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana in a repeat of last year’s Vuelta.
“It’s been in the works for a while. I’ve known that I was going to the Giro for a bit. When Matt White started putting ideas forward, it must have been around November or December but nothing was really finalised until a few weeks ago,” Yates explained.
“White had given me a call but he also started planting the seed at the Tour de France presentation in October. We waited to see how much time trialling there is in the Giro, and there is some, but that’s just something that I have to work on. It’s one of those things. I’ll work hard, look for some gains, and then try not to lose too much time against the clock.”
“As I said when the news came out, I’m always up for a challenge and I’ve done the Tour programme now for two years. The Giro is something new and while the goal is long-term development, this is going to be good for my improvement. Long-term means improving myself as a Grand Tour rider, and hopefully win these big races.”
Orica-Scott’s hope is that the Yates brothers can replicate the team’s 2016 Vuelta a Espana campaign where Simon Yates and Chaves took turns softening up their rivals before Chaves turned the screw and solidified a place on the podium with Yates returning with a fine top-ten placing plus a stage victory.
“We saw at the Vuelta that the combinations worked well and we had Simon and Esteban there," Adam pointed out.
"For the Giro, Simon and I are not fighting for sole leadership and we’ve raced together for years. We know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are. It works to our advantage and if one of us has a bad day there’s still someone up there. We want to take what we did in the Vuelta last year and then try and put that into the Giro.”
Before the Giro, Adam Yates will race at Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and the Ardennes Classics but the focus is on the Giro d'Italia in May, where he will be dreaming of becoming the first British rider since Robert Millar in 1987 to stand on the podium.