Despite a disappointing ride in this year's Tour de France, Adam Yates believes that he has it in him to follow his brother’s lead and take a Grand Tour victory in the future. Simon Yates became Mitchelton-Scott’s first Grand Tour winner in September, taking overall victory at the Vuelta a Espana.
“It’s hard to say but, why not? I’ve been up there in Grand Tours before. I go toe-to-toe with some of the best guys in the world on my day,” Yates told Cyclingnews. “It’s all a learning process, little things add up and if you do everything right then you can win some big races. You just have to keep plugging away, keep working hard and hope that it comes off.”
This season, Adam Yates’ own general classification ambitions centred around the Tour de France. It appeared to be going to plan as was in the top 10 overall at the end of the first week. However, cracks began to show when the race hit the big mountains and he slipped out of contention. The focus turned to stage victories and he looked set to win stage 16 into Bagneres-de-Luchon until he crashed on a corner.
Yates has taken the experience on the chin and has notched it up as a learning experience.
“I mentioned it at the time; not only me but the team messed up a little bit with nutritional stuff,” he said. “We rectified that at the Vuelta and then you see the result. Small mistakes have big consequences. The little things that you forget sometimes make a big difference. When you get everything right and do all the small things right you can win big races.”
It has been a mixed season for Yates personally. He appeared to be in superb form early on with a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico in March but things went off the rails briefly when he fractured his pelvis in a final-kilometre crash on stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya. He was racing again in May and admits that he may have come back too quickly.
“It doesn’t help when you break your pelvis in the middle of the year,” he joked when asked to sum up his 2018 season. “I came back strong. I came back quickly. I maybe came too quickly, if I’m honest, but you never know, you just get stuck into training and you never know.
“After I broke my pelvis, my next race was California and I was fourth overall, not a bad result. My next race was the Dauphine, where I won a stage and I was second overall. At the time I was feeling good and I didn’t feel anything.”
Hard work pays off in a busy season
Yates was a key component in his brother’s success at the Vuelta a Espana, with teammates protecting him heavily in the opening two weeks and only bringing Adam to the fore for the final few mountain stages. He was not initially down for the race, but the team changed plans in order to give him additional Grand Tour experience.
Mitchelton-Scott have increasingly focused on winning Grand Tours in recent years and have come close with Esteban Chaves previously, and with Simon at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year.
“For Gerry Ryan and his family, they’ve put so much support and money into the team, and for them, it must be a big relief,” Yates said of the Vuelta success.
“All the hard work that we put in, not just the riders but the staff and the people involved in the team, to see it finally come off is a fantastic result and achievement. I guess it just sets us up for the next couple of years. We’ve done it now, we know that we can do it, and let’s try to do it again.”
It has been a busy season for Yates with 75 race days so far and the end of the year is within sight. After contesting the World Championships in Innsbruck last week, where he finished a disappointing 37th, Yates is set to end his season in Italy with Milano-Torino next Wednesday and then Il Lombardia. It’s a race that suits him but it hasn’t quite gone to plan in recent years.
“I’ve done Lombardia a couple of times now and it’s a beautiful race, a really hard race. I feel like a lot of time I haven’t got it quite right and every year I’m getting better and hopefully this is the year,” he said. “It’s still going to be a hard race, you race the same guys. The final might be different but it’s still going to be a tough race.”
When Lombardia is over, Yates is looking forward to locking his bike away for a while.
“It’s pretty easy, you just stop riding the bike, stop thinking about the bike. I normally have quite a long off-season and slowly get back into training. I’m going to enjoy it, and not even look at the bike,” Yates told Cyclingnews.