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Grand tour racing can be a strange beast sometimes.
A rider can lose time to the race leader, but move up on GC.
“It is not my favorite terrain, I don’t have any experience of riding off road other than in Strade Bianche earlier in the year, which I think was very valuable in doing just for the experience and it helped me a lot today as well as doing the recon before the race,” Yates said. “I am just happy to get through it really.”
Also read: Simon Yates flying under the radar
Yates ceded more time to pink jersey Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) in Wednesday’s decisive stage to Montalcino, but gapped a few key podium rivals to climb into fifth overall.
Yates survived the white roads of Tuscany and is now poised in fifth overall at 1:22 behind Bernal, but just 10 seconds off the virtual podium.
Limiting losses Wednesday proved key to keeping alive his pink jersey aspirations.
“It is was not one of the days I was looking forward to, but I think I did a good ride there and had good legs,” Yates said. “I am looking forward to the days to come.”
Also read: How the GC shakes out after the gravel
The 28-year-old British rider is edging into the GC frame during this Giro just when it counts.
As the Giro hits the midway point, the Team BikeExchange captain so far has avoided the mishaps, crashes, and time gaps that can prove fatal to a podium run in a grand tour.
After flaming out in 2018, Yates bounced back to win the Vuelta a España later that season.
Sport director Matt White said everything is on track. Speaking before the start of the Giro, White said the team rolled into the Giro with everything in play.
“We’ve made mistakes over the years, but you learn from those mistakes, and it makes you more resilient,” White said. “We’re going into the Giro with good support around him, and we won the dress rehearsal. Let’s see if we can go out and win it.”
Some wondered if Yates would be coming into the Giro too hot following his dominant victory at the Tour of the Alps last month.
So far, he’s steadily climbed from 37th after the opening day time trial into fifth overall going into the first major climbing stages looming on the horizon this weekend.
Bernal is proving he’s the strongest so far, but Yates and others are hanging in there.
“It was a good day [Wednesday] looking at the situation with the GC,” Yates said. “I have moved up to fifth overall now, so onwards and upwards.”
Will Yates keep moving up?
Saturday’s summit finale at Monte Zoncolan will provide the first real clue of how far Yates can go in his Giro.