Simon Yates will ride 2019 Giro d'Italia 'to try to finish the job off'

Simon Yates has announced that he will return to the Giro d’Italia in 2019, acknowledging that his late collapse in this year’s race had "left a bitter taste".

The Mitchelton-Scott rider won three stages and wore the pink jersey for over two weeks at the 2018 Giro, but he lost the overall lead on stage 19 when he was distanced on the Colle delle Finestre and conceded 38 minutes to eventual winner Chris Froome.

Yates reached Rome two days later in 21st place overall, though the 26-year-old digested his disappointment quickly as he returned to win the overall classification at the Vuelta a España in September.

"I'm looking forward to returning to the Giro d’Italia next year. It’s a race I have great memories from but one which also left a bitter taste in my mouth so I want to go back to try to finish the job off," Yates said in a statement released by his team on Monday morning.

"I’m already working hard to arrive in great shape and I can’t wait for the season to begin."

Yates emulated Marco Pantani, Gilberto Simoni and Eddy Merckx by winning three stages in the maglia rosa on the 2018 Giro, claiming the spoils at Gran Sasso d’Italia, Osimo and Sappada. Although he produced strong time trial performances in 2018 – most notably at Rovereto in the third week – Yates acknowledged that the three individual time trials on the 2019 route could complicate his task.

"The Giro is always an extremely difficult race and next year, with three time trials, it’s maybe not perfectly suited to me but we will still give it a real go and see what we can achieve," Yates said.

Mitchelton-Scott directeur sportif Matt White did not feel that Yates would be unduly impeded by the time trials on the course, noting that the 26-year-old has improved markedly against the watch in recent seasons. The 2019 Giro starts with a short uphill time trial in Bologna on stage 1, while there is another climbing test to San Marino on stage 9. The race concludes with a flatter 15km time trial in Verona.

"It’s a decent course for Simon. There’s three time trials but all of them have a degree of climbing in them so they are not your pure specialist courses. We’ve come a long way with his time trialling and we still see there’s more room for improvement but if anything, it’s turning into a bit of a strength for Simon," said White.

"There’s very little climbing in the first 10 days but it’s still the hardest Giro I have seen in the last decade. There’s around three of four stages of more than 5000m of climbing. It’s a massive load, there’s some big long days."

Yates is the latest Grand Tour winner to announce his participation in the 2019 Giro after Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) confirmed in the past week that they would be on the start line in Bologna on May 11. Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) and Egan Bernal (Team Sky) are also expected to be among the challengers at the corsa rosa.

"Regardless of who is on the start line, Simon will go in as one of the favourites and we’re comfortable with that. We’ll go back with a strong climbing team, including with Spanish climber Mikel Nieve, similar to our approach in 2018," said White.

Simon Yates made his Grand Tour debut as a neo-professional at the 2014 Tour de France and placed 7th overall at the Grande Boucle in 2017, winning the white jersey of best young rider. He continued his progression with his sparkling showing on his first Giro appearance in 2018, and White maintains that the race suits the Briton’s characteristics.

"I had a gut feeling that Simon would want to go back to the Giro d’Italia," White said. "It was Simon’s first Giro d’Italia this year and it’ll be a Giro he will never forget. He liked the style of racing there, he liked his experience at the Giro, he had the most success he has ever had at any race and then the biggest disappointment that he has ever had."

It remains to be seen how Mitchelton-Scott will deploy their stage racing talent in the Grand Tours in 2019. Yates was joined by Esteban Chaves and Jack Haig in the Giro line-up in 2018, while his brother Adam was the Mitchelton-Scott leader at the Tour.

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