Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) may well head to the Tour de France in search of stage wins at the end of June before turning his focus to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, though the first thing he'll be sure to follow up his third place in the Giro d'Italia with is a break.
The Briton had a rollercoaster Giro d'Italia, struggling slightly in the first week but hitting top condition in the third week and making important inroads into the overall lead held by Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers). He also claimed a solo stage win on Friday in Alpe di Mera, before fading a little on the last mountain stage on Saturday.
That was followed up with an uneventful final 30.3 kilometre individual time trial into Milan. Yates placed 51st and lost 1:19 to fourth-placed GC rider Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) on the final stage, but a gap of nearly four minutes at the start of the day meant Yates easily retained enough of an advantage to stay on the overall podium.
He ended up 4:15 down on Bernal in the competition for the maglia rosa and 2:46 behind second-placed Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious).
It is Yates best result at the Giro and his second time on the overall podium of a Grand Tour, after winning the Vuelta a España in 2018. He also has a seventh in the Tour de France, dating from 2017 when he won the best young rider classification, and is now expected to look for more stage wins in the Tour, en route to Tokyo, to add to the two he took in 2019.
“First is a holiday, I can guarantee that one, he’ll be packing his bags and starting a nice break on Monday,” Team BikeExchange head sports director Matt White told Cyclingnews.
“Then we’ll sit down, see how he’s come out of the Giro. But obviously for Simon a big goal for him is to win the Olympic Games. And it’s highly likely you’ll be seeing him at the Tour.”
White denied that for Yates a third place in the Giro was a way of completing unfinished sporting business, after he lost the race almost within sight of Milan in 2018.
“People always forget this but he won the Vuelta three months after he’d won the Giro. So the line in the sand was definitely drawn by that," said White.
“We’ve had different preparation approaches, and you learn from your mistakes, and he has won multiple stages of the Tour de France since then too. Then last year he didn’t have an opportunity to do anything in the Giro because he caught COVID during the race.
“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since 2018 and that started with winning the Vuelta. We’ve learned a lot over the years. He’s had a very consistent performance this week and he should be proud.”
Yates was equally upbeat after finishing the Giro.
“I have no regrets, I came up against two guys who were better, that’s all. I did my best every day,” Yates said in Milan after finishing his race.
Yates confirmed that he had some “small problems” in the colder stages in the first part of the race, when his body did not respond as planned.
"That’s one of those things, and you have to deal with those the best you can,” he said.
Having fought so hard for his stage win on the Friday, Yates said he paid a price for his efforts the following day. But to triumph in a Grand Tour, he reflected, whether you have one bad day or not, you have to be good for three weeks.
“Egan showed himself to be the strongest, day-in-day-out, so that’s why he won. Caruso showed himself to be really solid, and he showed that yesterday [Saturday]. Third was the best I could do.”
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