Giro d’Italia GC contender Simon Yates (Bike Exchange-Jayco) has confirmed that his crash early on stage 4 has left him currently battling through the race with an injured knee.
The Briton has not talked to media about the effects of the crash until today’s stage start in Naples, but on Saturday morning Yates said that his knee is “not at 100 percent, but getting better every day.”
Yates also slated the unknown rider who ploughed into him from behind and caused him to fall when Yates had been held up by a previous crash, saying they "don't not know how to use their brakes.”
But as the best placed of the GC contenders, Yates said that he “did not need to be aggressive” on the crucial Blockhaus summit finish on Sunday.
“There was a crash in front of me, I could actually stop but somebody ploughed into me from behind, they don’t know how to use their brakes,” Yates said when asked about the accident.
“I don’t know who he was, but I hit the curb with my knee, unfortunately and that’s what did the damage. It’s not at 100 per cent but it’s getting better every day and it’s not impeding me.”
Yates said that in terms of potential GC battles on the Etna and at Potenza, “not much has happened since the [Hungary] time trial” and he recognised that - presumably given his injury - this uneasy truce had been playing in his favour. However, this calmer state of affairs was due to end very soon, he added.
“I’m expecting a big showdown on the Blockhaus, the first big explosion of the race,” he insisted. “But I’m also in a good position. At the moment I’d like to say I’m in front, so I don’t need to be the one to be aggressive. It’s the other GC guys who need to attack."
Unable to do a pre-race recon of the climb because of logistical issues, Yates said he had been talking to his brother Adam, who rode up the Blockhaus in 2017, about what the Apennines summit finish was like. Adam Yates is no longer his teammate, of course, having moved on from the Australian squad to Ineos Grenadiers in 2021, but Simon seemed more than satisfied with his current squad in the Giro regardless.
“The team is in really good shape, I think it’s one of the best ones we’ve ever put together,” Simon Yates enthused. "A few of the big guys have been sitting up at the end just to save some energy but I’ve always had guys with me in the finales, so we’re all good.”
Although the injury clearly had no effect on Yates climbing ability on the Etna nor or the tough stage to Potenza on Friday, where he finished with all the other contenders on both occasions, it remains to be seen whether it causes him problems on the much more testing stage of the Blockhaus.
Yates certainly came through stage 8 on the repeated circuits of the Naples ascent in good condition, showing strongly throughout the day in the bunch and said in the interview that the injury was not impeding him. And mercifully for the Briton, too, his Giro crash has not had the same consequences as his previous heavy fall in a Grand Tour, in the Tour de France last year, when he came down with teammate Lucas Hamilton on stage 13, and had to abandon.
The next big test, though, is just around the corner.
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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 Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.
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