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TURIN, Italy (VN) – Two Saturdays on from his morale-boosting victory in the Budapest time trial on the Giro d’Italia’s opening weekend, Simon Yates claimed another very significant success after a series of setbacks that led to his challenge for the overall title coming unstuck before the race had reached the halfway point.
“It was a big win for Simon, a really big win,” said BikeExchange-Jayco team director Matt White. “It was a good stage for him, whether he’d simply been trying to win the stage itself or if he’d been going for GC. It really suited him. Nothing had changed. He was still racing against the best guys.”
Yates’s GC challenge faltered when he hurt his knee on stage 4 to Mount Etna and then evaporated all but completely when he lost 11 minutes to his principal rivals for the title on the Blockhaus last weekend. “He came in here with very big expectations, very big goals. So, of course, he was disappointed,” said White.
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“He’s put a lot of effort in, a lot of sacrifice, to get into the condition that he’s in. But what has shown today is that his condition hasn’t gone anywhere and it was just the knee injury that limited him during a period of the race and prevented him from performing at his best.”
The BikeExchange director said that his team had fully expected the GC teams to control the stage into and around Turin, and that they ready to do what they could to keep Yates in contention for it. “We thought this morning that it was going to be a GC day and that a certain GC team wanted to take the jersey today, which they have. They’ve achieved their goal and we’ve achieved ours,” he explained.
Asked if Yates is still being affected by his knee injury, White commented: “His injury’s clearly not hampering him as much as much today. As I’ve said earlier in the race, if it was an injury that we thought was doing any damage, he wouldn’t be here still. But it’s an injury that’s stopping him from being at 100 percent. I still don’t think he’s at 100 percent, which is a frightening thing. And we’ve still got a lot of mountain stages to go.”
Like BikeExchange rider Lawson Craddock had done just prior to the start of the stage into Turin, White said the main positive about Yates being out of the GC contest was that the Briton can now pick which days he will be chasing further wins in the Giro’s final week. “He’s obviously gone pretty deep today, but we can we can rest one day, attack others, we can take it day by day,” said White.