No rest for Tour de France leader Adam Yates ahead of tough mountain stages

Tour de France 2020 - 107th Edition - 5th stage Le Teil - Mont Aigoual 191 km - 03/09/2020 - Adam Yates (GBR - Mitchelton - Scott) - photo POOL Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2020
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Another day, another yellow jersey - or not. After what was a chaotic stage of racing at the Tour de France, Britain’s Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) sounded even more phlegmatic than usual in his post-stage comments, with the race leader arguing “there were only a few critical moments where you had to be in position”.

Yates seemingly had no problem with the crosswinds racing, finishing ninth on the stage and with his slender three-second advantage over Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) intact.

He reasoned that even if he was alone in the front group of 40 or so racers in the finale, it had been because his Mitchelton-Scott teammates had used up a “lot of energy just to keep me up there.”

The Briton can now look forward to going into the mountains, his favoured terrain, in the top spot on the general classification.

“There were only a few critical moments when you had to be in position,” Yates reasoned after stage 7, “The wind wasn’t crazy strong, but it just kind of enough to create a few splits. The guys looked after me perfectly.

"The next two days should be pretty tough. I think today everyone was expecting to have an easier day before the two big mountain stages, but Bora-Hansgrohe had other ideas and we rode pretty much full gas from start to finish - it was a hard day for everybody.”

Mitchelton-Scott team director Matt White recognised in a press release that it had been an error on his riders’ part to leave Yates so isolated in the finale. Without any support, a puncture or a mechanical could have cost the Briton dearly, as Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), who was able to count on the strong backing of Jonathan Castroviejo but who still lost time, was to discover.

“Adam was well protected until the split caused by Ineos and that’s a mistake by our guys,” White said. “They caught a few GC guys napping through the towns, they ripped through the roundabouts.”

White agreed with Yates that “It wasn’t so much the wind, it was just that there was a lot of speed and yeah, it was a mistake from our guys not being there, but Adam handled himself very well.”

As for what could happen in the next, critical two mountain stages, White argued that breakaways could form early on depending on whether his team was willing to give up the yellow jersey or not. He hinted that Mitchelton-Scott might now be willing to play a longer game and look to letting the yellow jersey move elsewhere, albeit to a non-GC threat.

Predicting “an incredibly active” first hour of racing until “something goes,” he then said that “the big thing will be, are teams ready for us to have the jersey for the weekend? Or do they want to put us under the pump or put each other under the pump and see who’s actually climbing well on proper, epic climbs, in the next two days?”

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, 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. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.