Adam Yates was Great Britain’s highest placed finisher in the men’s road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Saturday, taking ninth in a small group that finished behind lone leader and gold medalist Richard Carapaz (Ecuador).
Yates was part of the main move that formed on the last major climb of the race and he fought back after being initially distanced by the likes of Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) and Wout van Aert (Belgium).
However, on a day that saw half of the British men’s team - Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart - hit the deck in crashes, Yates was able to rally and make the final selection.
He was unable to latch onto Carapaz and Brandon McNulty (USA) when the pair attacked with 25km to go but the British rider nevertheless hung on for a top-ten place. Van Aert would take silver, with Pogacar completing the podium with third on the line.
"That was a real tough day. I think we did the best we could," Yates told the BBC at the finish.
"We rode in manner we wanted to. In the end I didn’t really have the legs there. I was cramping everywhere - first race back in a long time. I just did the best I could. I’m not sure where I finished up but it was a good day."
Although he wasn’t able to make the difference on the climbs, Yates still had the energy to try and anticipate the sprint for silver. He went early but was soon swamped by his rivals and finished at the back of the eight rider group that finished 1:07 down on Carapaz.
"There was a bit of headwind on final straight. With the guys there, I was never going to win anyway so I tried to go a bit early on the inside, but in the end Van Aert opened up early anyway and took everyone with him. I’m not sure where I finished but couldn’t have done much more, so a good day in the end," Yates said.
"It was a tough day in general. We had two guys down early. In general, the way we’ve come into the race… I’ve not raced for a long time and everyone else has come out of the Tour - either crashing or getting to the finish battered and bruised – so we’ve not had the most ideal prep as a team, but I think we can be happy. I’m sure we’ll be back in a few years’ time to try again."
Yates' brother Simon finished in the third group on the road, having lost contact with the main contenders on the Mikuni Pass. He came home in 17th place, over three minutes down on Carapaz.
"Adam was up there. I think he was in the second group fighting for a medal but I think in that situation he was always going to be at a disadvantage," said Simon Yates.
"I’d have liked to be in that group to help him but that’s how it goes."
Both Thomas and Geoghegan Hart remounted after their falls but later abandoned the race.
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