Adam Yates will hope to carry his fine early-season form into the Ardennes Classics when he tackles Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. The Briton has won stages at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Volta a Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country so far in 2019, and he will lead the line for Mitchelton-Scott in Belgium this week.
Yates has made just two previous appearances at Flèche Wallonne, placing 97th as a neo-professional in 2014 and abandoning the race two years later. He has also lined out on two occasions at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, placing 8th on his last attempt in 2017.
"I'm in good condition but I've never quite mastered the Ardennes races. The terrain suits me generally and Flèche is a bit harder than usual which should suit me more," Yates said in a statement released by his Mitchelton-Scott team.
While his brother Simon will eschew the Ardennes Classics as he builds towards next month's Giro d'Italia, Adam Yates will complete his spring campaign in the Ardennes before turning his thoughts to preparing for the Tour de France.
"I am nearing the end of a big block of racing which I am pleased about, with a few wins along the way, so my confidence is quite high, but we will have to see how things go on Wednesday," Adam Yates said.
Yates will be joined in the Mitchelton-Scott line-up by Michael Albasini, who has a strong track record at Flèche Wallonne. The Swiss rider has placed in the top 10 at the summit of the Mur de Huy on no fewer than eight occasions. He took second behind Joaquim Rodriguez in 2012 and third behind Alejandro Valverde in 2015.
"We have some fresh riders coming in for Flèche Wallonne, notably Adam Yates. The race has one extra lap this year, which makes it even harder," said directeur sportif Matt White. "It is a really important race for us and I think we have a great chance with the riders we have."
Mitchelton-Scott's team also includes neo-professional Nick Schultz, who makes his debut in the race. The Australian placed second overall at the Herald Sun Tour in February, and has raced the Tour of the Basque Country, Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race in recent weeks.
"I am really looking forward to Flèche. I’ve heard it’s a super taxing race and I’m excited to discover it for myself," Schultz said. "I expect it to be super hard but I hope I’m capable of doing a job for the leaders."
Mitchelton-Scott team for Flèche Wallonne: Michael Albasini (Swi), Tsgabu Grmay (Eth), Damien Howson (Aus), Daryl Impey (RSA), Dion Smith (NZl), Nick Schultz (Aus), Adam Yates (GBr).