For many teams targeting the general classification at the Tour de France, finding yourself out of the running for the yellow jersey can often be all it needs to consider the race a complete write-off and to head home with your tail between your legs. Not Mitchelton-Scott: despite the wheels having come off Adam Yates' campaign this year, the Australian team regrouped and came away with an impressive four stage victories.
Two-time Tour Down Under champion Daryl Impey got the ball rolling with his win on stage 9, before Simon Yates – at the race to support his brother and GC hopeful Adam – was afforded the opportunity to win stage 12 from a three-man breakaway. Both victories, it must be said, came before Adam fell out of the GC running entirely, but once the team was forced to change its focus – after the British climber lost almost seven minutes on stage 14 to the Col du Tourmalet – it did so wholeheartedly, ending the race, while up against 21 other teams, with four victories out of a possible 21.
"Obviously the number-one objective when we came in was to support Adam on the general classification," said head sports director Matt White on the team's website. "We already had two stage wins when we had to change our tack, but not only did we change tack, we changed tack very successfully and bagged another two wins as well."
AG2R La Mondiale, it could be said, found themselves in a similar boat when their GC man Romain Bardet failed to fire. They, too, saved their Tour through Bardet's own ability to refocus on successfully taking the polka-dot 'king of the mountains' jersey.
But while, at Mitchelton-Scott, Adam Yates' disappointment was understandable, having had the entire team built around him, he and the team demonstrated an ability not only to shift its focus from one rider to another, but to zero-in on individual riders' abilities on different terrains and throw the full weight of the team behind that rider in an effort to win the day.
"This race hasn't gone to plan, but now it's a case of switching mentality and targeting stages," Yates told Cyclingnews once it was clear that his GC hopes were over. "That's difficult to do mentally when you put so much into the Tour, but you can't dwell on it."
And dwell on it they didn't, with first Simon Yates taking his second stage win – solo this time – at the summit of Prat d'Albis on stage 15, and then European road race champion Matteo Trentin skipping powerfully away off the front of a huge 34-rider break to win stage 17 from the Pont du Gard to Gap.
"It was a great Tour – and very successful for the team, of course," Simon said via the Mitchelton-Scott website. "Four stage wins: I don't think we've ever had so much success at the Tour before – not since the guys had the yellow jersey before I was in the team.
"I'm very proud to be part of that success. The boys have been really great from start to finish," he said.
"It was a fantastic three weeks," Trentin added. "When you come here with a GC hope and the GC hope finishes, it's unfortunate, but it can happen. It's sport, but straight away we went again on any single day that we could win. We were always there, always trying and four stages is not something you get every day."