Asked by Cyclingnews earlier this week if he wished the switch in the finale from Ans to the Liege city centre had taken place a year later rather than in 2019, Yates grins and says "pretty much, yeah."
Climbing and fast, late accelerations on tough courses are two of Yates' biggest talents, so the Liege finish in Ans suited him down to the ground.
But the Briton remains optimistic about his chances. And after his best spring, in terms of results, to date Yates says he will be determined to make his presence known once again on Sunday, and in the process pull down the curtain on the first part of his season in the best way possible. It’s also true that Yates' first big Classics win came on a similarly hard course, with a flat run-in after a late climb, at the 2015 Clásica San Sebastian.
"I mean, it’s still going to be a hard race as always with that distance and that difficulty, but the finish in previous years would have been much better for me," Yates points out.
"But I’ll still have a go. Why not? I’m here, I’m in good condition, It’s just a shame I couldn’t contest Flèche Wallonne, because I was feeling good."
Recounting how his crash and abandon in Flèche happened, Yates told Cyclingnews, "Somebody slipped out in front of the corner, and there was nowhere to go. And that was it.
"When the course is that twisty and there’s so much road furniture, as soon as someone comes down there’s nowhere to go."
His abandon at Flèche is now behind him, in any case, and Yates has certainly shown that he can race well in Liege in the past, finishing eighth in his previous performance, back in 2017. Or as Yates himself puts it, "I’ve got one more chance before I take a break from racing."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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