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Simon Yates keen to get to grips with Tour de Pologne climbs

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) will head into the hills of the Tour de Pologne on Tuesday ready to test his climbing legs at WorldTour level for the first time since his rollercoaster Giro d'Italia.

"I'm looking forward to getting stuck in," Yates, who will turn 26 on Tuesday, told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 3. He finished the stage safely to remain in 28th overall, in the same time as all the top names.

"I'm feeling good, relatively. We won't see how I'm really going today [on stage 3, won by sprinter Quick-Step's Alvaro Hodeg] but we will tomorrow [stage 4]."

Yates was referring, of course, to the Tour de Pologne's first summit finish on Tuesday – the short, but intense, climb through Silesia's Beskid mountains to the ski centre of Szczyrk.

Stage 4 features four longer and tougher categorised ascents earlier in the stage, with some ramps reaching a little over 15 per cent. The constantly undulating 179-kilometre stage includes a hefty 2,280 metres of vertical climbing.

Given the amount of climbing involved in the second half of the race starting on Tuesday, Yates argues that it will be a good race to build form for what comes next for him.

"I think it's a good race to build up for the Vuelta a España, although last time I came to Poland, in 2016, it was full-gas raining every day."

At that year's Tour de Pologne, the most spectacular downpour came on stage 5 in the mountains, won by Tim Wellens, on a day when 86 riders abandoned.

"This time around it's completely the opposite, and in fact probably a bit too hot for me at the minute. So I'm looking forward to getting stuck in," said Yates.

"But last time I was here, I then went to the Vuelta a España, and that went all right, as far as I'm concerned, as I took sixth overall. So this really is a good race for the build-up to Spain."

The Vuelta will be Yates' second Grand Tour of the season after his spectacular Giro d'Italia, which he dominated for nearly two weeks, winning three stages, before coming unstuck with exhaustion just three days from the finish.

"I'm not looking forward to the first week of the Vuelta because it's going to be extremely hot," Yates said. "I'll slowly adapt to the heat, but it'll take some time. I'm not naturally gifted in that area, unfortunately. I hope to do the best I can, because I'm going to go for the GC, but I've got half an eye on the Worlds too.

"It's going to be a completely different build-up to what I had for the Giro d'Italia or previous Grand Tours, so I'm unsure if I can run for the GC," Yates continued. "I'll settle for doing the best I can, and if I fall short, that's OK."

First, though, comes the Tour de Pologne, where Yates is widely ranked as one of the favourites, the searingly high temperatures forecast for later this week notwithstanding. The Briton has shone on short, punchy climbs in the past, with his superb stage victory on the steeply rising ascent in Osimo at the Giro d'Italia one of the most memorable wins of the 2018 season across the board.

However well he does on stage 4, Yates is cautious, however, about reading too much into the Tour de Pologne when it comes to predicting how well riders will go on to perform at the Vuelta. Indeed, last year only three of Pologne's top 10 GC finishers – Vincenzo Nibali, Wout Poels and Wilco Kelderman – finished in the top 10 overall of the Vuelta as well.

"The sensations you get here can sometimes communicate fairly well what you'll do in the Vuelta," Yates explained, "but sometimes you can be flying in an event like this, and then creeping there.

"The opposite can be true, too. At the Critérium du Dauphiné last year I was creeping and finished in the top 10 in the Tour. Here in Poland [in 2016] I was creeping, and was then going really well there at the Vuelta. It depends. Cycling's a weird sport."

If you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to be part of a top-level cycling team, and to be on the ground, inside the barriers, at the Tour de France, then RUNNING WITH WOLVES will take you there. It is available to rent for $3.99 USD or buy for $6.99 USD (opens in new tab).

You can also still purchase our first two films, THE HOLY WEEK (opens in new tab) and CRESCENDO (opens in new tab), on Vimeo (opens in new tab).

RUNNING WITH WOLVES (opens in new tab) from Cyclingnews Films (opens in new tab) on Vimeo (opens in new tab), produced by La Pédale and a special thanks to Quick-Step Floors.

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