Yates relinquished yellow on the second of two days in the Pyrenees, and heads into the first Tour rest day 1:02 down on Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) lead, but in order for the future Ineos Grenadiers rider to realistically start targeting stage wins he will need to lose more time and slip down the overall standings.
The next two days are relatively flat but with the threat of crosswinds – particularly on stage 10. Yates may sit up in order to concede time before the next set of mountain stages. Stage 13 to Guyon-Puy Mary looks well-suited to a break and could see the next wave of attacks from riders serious about snatching a stage win away from the yellow jersey contenders.
“We came here for stages, I was aggressive on stage 2 and from that we came out with the yellow jersey,” Yates said during his rest-day press conference on Monday.
“I probably need to be around 10 minutes down [ed. to be in a break]. Yesterday it took 60k for the break to go, so it’s going to be a hard fight. You’re going to have to be a long way down before you’re given any freedom. If you’re only around three minutes down and you try and go up the road, you’re going to get shut down.
"There are a lot of teams organised and going well, and they know what they’re doing. We’ll just have to see because the next few days are flat and so far the forecast doesn’t look super windy, so I shouldn’t lose too much time, but if need be I’ll just go off the back and lose time here and there before the big Alps stages,” Yates said.
Yates was third on stage 2 into Nice and clearly has the required form to compete for stage wins in the second half of the race, but he’s certainly not the only Mitchelton-Scott rider capable of victory, with Esteban Chaves, Daryl Impey, and Mikel Nieve three standout riders within the team.
Yates believes that his period in the yellow jersey will help instill confidence in the rest of the team, and it’s certainly a moment he will cherish when he looks back at his career.
“I think everyone wants to wear it, and when you watch the Tour when you’re growing up as a kid you watch the yellow jersey. It’s been a big honour and it’s been great for the team to wear it," Yates said. "There are still plenty of opportunities for the team over the next few weeks. Time is on my side and we can go into these next two weeks with confidence.”
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