He may have finished below all of his GC rivals for the Tour de France podium in the Pau time trial on stage 13 on Friday but, according to his sports director, nothing will change regarding Mitchelton-Scott's approach to supporting Adam Yates.
The British climber lost 2:08 to stage winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and finished below the likes of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), UAE Team Emirates' Dan Martin and Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) over the 27.2km course, with the Mitchelton rider now sitting 10th overall and 3:55 down on maillot jaune Alaphilippe. Just over a minute separates Yates from a top-five position, so despite losing more time than expected, the Australian team are still confident in their GC leader.
"We lost more time in the time trial than was planned. It is what it is. We were expecting the GC guys to be between 30 seconds and a minute of each other but we've lost a bit more," Matt White told Cyclingnews from the team's hotel on Friday evening after the dust had settled on a dramatic day at the Tour.
"He's still equal ninth and one second off eighth, so it's still tight. The GC battle hasn't really started and we've not reached the deep mountains yet. That starts on Saturday.
"I just don't think he had the best of days," continued White. "It's as simple as that. When you don't have a good day over a time trial of that nature, you're going to lose time. He never blew or had a bad period; it was a gradual loss throughout.
Much was expected of Yates after he finished sixth in the time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné several weeks ago – a result that moved him into the leader's jersey in the Tour de France warm-up race. The Dauphiné course was similar in length to the parcours in Pau, but not as demanding, according to White.
"It wasn't as good as his Dauphine time trial but that was a lot harder and it's hard to compare time trials when you're not a specialist."
With two back-breaking days in the Pyrenees to come, including a stage finish on the Tourmalet on stage 14 on Saturday, the race is still wide open, and White expects Yates to bounce back from his below-par time trial and rally as the race ventures into his terrain. Yates was fourth in the Tour three years ago and White will expects his GC rider to remain in contention for a high overall finish as the race heads into its difficult final week.
"Nothing changes for us," White told Cyclingnews.
"The goal is still to support Adam as well as we can. The team has done an incredible job supporting him and taking two stage wins along the way. Nothing changes for us at all. He's in a battle with seven or eight riders that will be battling for the podium, and today's result didn't change that."
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