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Yates bullish on team support as he consolidates pink jersey lead

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SAPPADA, Italy (VN) — Simon Yates isn’t worried that his Mitchelton-Scott team will crumble as the Giro d’Italia pedals into the decisive final week.

Yates is in the pole position going into Monday’s rest day after another spectacular performance. Another stage win widens his lead to 2:11 to archrival Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and 4:52 to Chris Froome (Sky).

“I have great legs and a great feeling,” Yates said. “The team has supported me superbly. There is no reason to be anything but confident.”

Yates is oozing confidence right now. A day after finishing second to Froome at Monte Zoncolan, he dropped the entire peloton to claim his third stage victory. More importantly was the time he opened to his direct GC rivals.

“I don’t know if it’s enough,” Yates said ahead of Tuesday’s time trial. “I attacked today to be a bit more calm. I’ve been trying to take time since the race started. I’ve been successful on many days, but my advantage can be wiped out in one day in one time trial.”

So far, Mitchelton-Scott is riding as if it doesn’t plan on stopping until Rome.

Mitchelton-Scott has been riding as a unit, with Svein Tuft and Sam Bewley controlling the flats. Riders like Jack Haig and Roman Kreuziger have provided key support in the mountains. The entire team is riding to protect Yates in every part of the race.

“We have the strongest team on the climbs,” Yates said. “For me, we have the strongest team by a long way.”

Yates has delivered one big ride after another during this Giro. The 25-year-old is looking more and more comfortable in pink as the Giro rides into the third and final rest day.

Many might be surprised to see Yates leading the Giro so deep into the race, but Mitchelton-Scott came to the season’s first grand tour to win.

“I have confidence in my team,” Yates said. “They have confidence in me.”

Yates is riding with growing confidence at the front of the race. So far, he’s been living up to expectations within the team.

Many were surprised when he and his twin brother Adam joined the GreenEdge franchise in 2014 rather than go to the UK-backed Team Sky.

“When they first approached me many years ago, they were looking to develop GC riders,” Yates said. “I have had a slow, steady progression to the top. They gave me leadership roles right from the beginning in smaller races, which I really think helped me get to this position.”

So far, it’s been Mitchelton-Scott that’s been taking it to Team Sky.

Following Sunday’s ride in what could be a knockout punch, Mitchelton-Scott knows all it needs to do is avoid an error.

“Even if we lose the pink jersey in the time trial, we have three more mountain stages to try to get it back,” said general manager Shane Bannon. “We have to be consistent and keep doing what we’re doing.”

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