Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) has reiterated his desire to pursue stage wins over a GC challenge in this year’s Tour de France, especially after suffering from illness in the build-up to this year’s race.
Yates forms part of an aggressive line-up at Mitchelton-Scott with the team deciding to focus on stage wins rather than a tilt at the yellow jersey. Yates finished fourth several years ago, and won the white jersey but in the years since he has fallen well short of his own expectations. This time around, and with the pressure off, he's aiming to win his maiden Grand Tour stage.
"I'm feeling good, I'm feeling fresh and I'm ready to get stuck in," he said in an online media press conference on Wednesday.
"I wasn't 100 per cent at the Criterium Dauphine but I went in and every day I was getting better and better. I got in the break and I was up there. Then I had a few days rest and it was straight into the recon camp. Every day I'm getting better and every day I'm feeling more like myself. It's not been ideal but I'm getting better."
Yates has raced the Tour de France for the last two years but despite being billed as a potential GC contender, he has fallen apart in the mountains. He almost claimed a stage win in 2018 but narrowly missed after crashing on the final descent of stage 16.
"In the last couple of years I've not had the ideal preparation and then we've gone into the race targeting GC and it's not gone to plan. I think it would be silly to do that again. I've been sick, it was quite a severe illness. Targeting GC is a big ask and if you're not 100 per cent you're going to be left behind. There are a lot of stages this year for the breakaway, and I think that there will be a lot of chances."
This time around the search for stage wins could begin on stage 2 with a lumpy finale very unlike most Tour de France openings. Some predict that the GC contenders could even fight it out for the win into Nice with two categorized climbs coming inside the final kilometres.
"It's probably the hardest start that I've seen for a long time. We checked out stage 2 today, and it's up there, and one of the hardest stages to start a Grand Tour with. We just have to wait and see what the legs are like," Yates said.
Whatever the outcome, this will be Yates' final Tour ride with Mitchelton-Scott with the 28-year-old on his way to Team Ineos in 2021. He's highly motivated to leave the team he turned professional with in 2014 on a high.
"There's still the Vuelta at the end of the year that might happen but the team knows that it doesn't matter what happens, I'm always going to try my best. That's always been the case since I turned professional in 2014. The whole Tour is going to be an attacking and aggressive race," he said.
"I started my career here, six or seven years ago. It wasn't an easy decision but I'm happy with what I chose. I made my mind up a couple of weeks ago and it moved pretty quickly from there."
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