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TURIN, Italy (VN) — Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) is finding his form again with his second stage win of the Giro d’Italia in Turin on Saturday, but his victory was tinged with a bit of frustration that he wasn’t duking it out for the GC.
Yates dropped down the overall standings at the end of the first week after losing time on the stage 9 summit finish at Blockhaus. Any possibility that he might make a late resurgence up the GC in the final week was squashed when he gave another 7:44 away in Friday’s hectic run into Cuneo.
Despite still suffering from the lingering effects of a crash on stage 4, which left him with a knee injury, Yates hung tough with his former GC rivals over a brutal course around Turin on stage 14.
“I have had a lot of problems with my knee, it’s still not 100 percent but now I’m able to stand out of the saddle. Before, I was in a lot of discomfort standing on the pedals. If you watch me ride a bike it’s 90 percent out of the saddle,” Yates said after the stage.
“I had a lot of problems with that. I won’t go into too much detail, but I feel like I’m finally getting back to where I need to be. There’s a little bit of frustration I couldn’t fight for the overall but that’s how it goes. You have to be good for three weeks.”
Yates was dropped several times over the final climbs of the finishing circuit but dragged himself back into contention before attacking with five kilometers to go. As the only member of the group not in the GC fight, Yates was banking on his chasers being more concerned with each other than him.
“The situation there was really a fight for the overall, I was almost a passenger. I was only looking for the stage, so I had to play that to my advantage. For sure, those three guys I was with, they were more strong than me on the climbs so I had to choose my moment to attack and really take it with both hands so that’s what I did.”
Struggling mentally and physically
Yates is not often very effusive with the press, but he has been keeping a pretty low profile during the second week of the Giro. In his post-stage press conference, Yates revealed that he had been contemplating leaving the race in recent days.
With his knee injury preventing him from making any sort of comeback, he had begun to wonder what his place was in the race. However, now that he has a second victory in his back pocket, he’s looking toward the final week with a bit more anticipation.
“The last few days, I have been thinking about [abandoning the race] just because I was still having problems with my knee,” he said. “The mental aspect wasn’t really there. I came here to fight for the overall and I was doing nothing, and I was at the back. Today has given me more morale and maybe I can fight for more stages.”
One of the reasons Yates cited for his troubles on Blockhaus was the high temperatures that greeted the riders. Saturday’s stage around Turin was also brutally hot but Yates said it was a different kind of heat and he reacted better to it.
“Today was more of a dry heat, the other day was more humid so I couldn’t really cool the body,” Yates said. “Today I maybe threw 10 or 12 bidons over my body to cool down, and also, we’re doing a circuit so I can get more water.
“That was one of the main reasons I could stay cool and have a good ride. I think that was one of the factors of today being so hard. On Blockhaus I did my best and that’s all you can do.”