Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was one of the GC-contender winners at the Tour de France on Monday when the formation of echelons on a windy stage 10 saw the state of affairs change dramatically, with a number of other contenders losing more than a minute-and-a-half.
Yates was pleased to have teammate Matteo Trentin for company when the dramatic split in the peloton happened with 30km to go of the 217km stage between Saint-Flour and Albi. The Italian then sprinted to eighth place on the stage, while Yates – in the company of riders such as Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Team Ineos duo Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal – gained 1:40 over a number of GC rivals, including Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Astana's Jakob Fuglsang and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First).
"What can you say? It was pretty chilled out in the beginning, then all of a sudden it went warp speed!" Yates said on his team's website. "It was a good job that I had guys around me, especially Matteo.
"As soon as it went in the gutter, we were there at the front, swapping off and doing turns," he continued. "I've never done that before – that was a new experience. But, all in all, it was a good day."
A good day indeed, as Yates jumped from 12th to seventh overall, 1:47 down on race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), and still only 35 seconds down on defending champion Thomas, but now 46 seconds ahead of Pinot, 1:31 over Uran, and with a huge 2:12 buffer back to Porte.
Following the emotion of Mitchelton-Scott's stage victory courtesy of Daryl Impey on Sunday, head sports director Matt White was thrilled with his team's current run of good fortune.
"We came into today [Monday] not really to gain time, but just to make sure we didn't lose any time, and the time we've gained on some of our biggest rivals is a big, big bonus, and a bonus you wouldn't expect to take on a flat stage the day before the rest day," White said.
"Matteo was looking after Adam, riding through in the crosswinds with him and looking after him all the way to the line. Having someone with Matteo's experience taking Adam to the line was a big bonus and was part of the reason we've taken so much time [on some rivals]."
While Trentin had an opportunity to sprint for the stage win, and Impey had come out on top the day before, the team has come into this year's Tour ready to make an all-out effort to get Yates onto the podium in Paris in just under two weeks' time.
"We've moved into the top 10, in seventh place, and it's very tight," White continued. "Besides yesterday's win, we've had a very quiet 10 days for a reason, and we know how tough this second half of the race is.
"All the different groups in our team have done a great job, and the biggest group of workers in the first 10 days has been the 'engine room' boys. And they're tired – and they're tired for a reason – as they've been guiding Adam around for 10 days, so it's a well-deserved rest day for them [on Tuesday]," he said.