Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) has buried his GC aspirations at this year’s Tour de France and will now concentrate on hunting stage wins. The climber lost a packet of time on the second and third mountain stages of this year’s race and after the Alps dropped out of contention for a place on the podium. After 13 stages of the Tour, Yates sits 21st overall, 36:18 down on the yellow jersey.
“I’m disappointed,” Yates told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 13. "We came here to ride GC, but I suffered a lot in the heat over the last couple of days. I had pretty bad dehydration. That’s one of those things, and that’s bike racing at the highest level."
Yates came through the opening nine days of the Tour ninth overall, thanks in part to a strong team time trial from Mitchelton-Scott and a determined ride on stage 9 along the cobbles of Roubaix. On the first mountain stage to La Grand Bornard Yates gained ground and moved into seventh overall, and the situation looked positive ahead of the stage to La Rosiere. However, Yates lost over four minutes to stage winner Geraint Thomas in the heat, and worse was to follow on the stage to Alpe d’Huez when the Mitchelton man was distanced well before the finish.
“On the first mountain stage I felt good, but obviously the next day, when you go into a mountain stage dehydrated and then I lost around four minutes," he said. "I hope that could recover for Alpe d’Huez, but obviously I didn’t. We just have to change the objectives and hopefully win some stages.
“I don’t know really what went wrong. It’s the first time that it’s happened to me. I’ve done a lot of heat adaption. I drunk loads. I drunk as much as I could with the guys going back for bottles for me.”
With his primary goal in the race now a distant memory, Yates will look to rescue the campaign with a stage win. Mitchelton came to the race with a GC-focused squad, but they have a number of adaptable riders within their ranks. Just days after Simon Yates’ Giro d'Italia bubble burst the team won a stage through Mikel Nieve, and now the veteran climber, along with Daryl Impey and Damien Howson, will get chances over the next few days while Yates focuses on his own recovery ahead of the Pyrenees, where he will look to bounce back.
"There are some easier stages now so I can try and recover, and then we have the big mountain stages," Yates said. "In terms of target stages, anything that’s hard. I know that I’ve got the legs to challenge, but whether I can recover, I guess we’ll find out.”
The change in focus isn’t just a physical one for Yates, and he’s not the only one-time GC rider who has had to shift aims since the race started. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) have all been forced to alter their hopes at the Tour after losing significant time in the first set of mountains.
“It’s different and it’s a big change, but I’ve done it before and we’ll try and get stuck in," Yates said. "Morale is alright and we’ll just keep plugging away. I’m always upbeat.”