A determined Yates made it into the day’s break and kept the peloton at bay until the final climb of Gérardmer. "It was a hard day out, but it was a good experience. It might come off another time," Yates told the gathered press at the finish.
"What was left of the peloton was breathing down my neck, so to speak, and I had the car coming up to me. I was just riding as hard as I could and what can you do when the best bike riders in the world are chasing you?"
It was a fast start to the day, with the peloton averaging more than 48kph. The quick pace made it difficult for an escape to form and it wasn't until 36km had passed when the peloton allowed two riders to go. A week into his first Grand Tour, Yates was determined to show that he earned his place in the team. The 21-year-old missed the initial attack by former teammates Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling).
With the bit between his teeth, Yates chased with two other riders to make the junction to the two out front. "It was tough even trying to get into it. I was going flat out just to get into it with 30 other guys," said Yates.
Yates looked strong in the group of five, but when it came to the crunch on the Col de la Croix Moinats, he couldn't match the pace of Kadri and Chavanel. Yates tried valiantly, but the weather conditions had taken their toll. "I'm still going flat stick all the time, it's not easy. It’s a steep climb," said Yates.
"My legs were a bit cold from the rain and they just got the gap straight away and that was it. I couldn't get back to them, but it was ok. I rode as hard as I could up that climb."
Yates only turned professional in January and spent several weeks of the season out with a broken collarbone, and is still getting the feel of life in the professional peloton. For a rider who has less than six months of top-level racing in his legs, the Tour de France has been a steep learning curve.
"How can you not learn from these experiences? It’s the biggest bike race we do and the most well known race we do, and I think I’m learning a lot," he said. "Obviously I don't know if I’m going to make it all the way to the end but I'll do my best."
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