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Tour de France

A consistent Adam Yates savors wide-open Tour

The British climber hopes to capitalize on a Tour route short on time trials and heavy on climbs, in a field without a clear favorite.

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BRUSSELS, Belgium (VN) — At 26, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) has already completed seven grand tours. This year, with a Tour de France route suited to his style, the British climber wants to capitalize on a wide-open edition of the race.

Yates will lead the Mitchelton-Scott team, which says the goal is to win the race overall.

“Our goal, our number one priority is to chase one jersey, and that’s the yellow one,” head sports director Matt White said. “I put Adam in a group of five to six riders who I think… It’s probably the most open Tour de France we’ve seen in the last 10 years. Our goal is to give him the best possible support to get as high on the podium that we can.”

Yates, who finished fourth in the 2016 Tour, suffered in the 2018 edition from the heat. The team also admitted he miscalculated his hydration. In 2019, however, he has had one of his most consistent early seasons, which has included leading Tirreno-Adriatico and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

“I’ve been happy with my form and my condition. I want to go better than before,” Yates said. “It was a big effort, straight from the start of the season when I began training again; I was real consistent and dedicated.”

Yates finished second in Tirreno-Adriatico behind Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), second in the Vuelta a Catalunya behind Miguel Angel López (Astana), and looked ready for a Critérium du Dauphiné win after three days in the lead. A bug, however, hit the peloton and forced many to abandon in the final stages, including Yates.

“Our team was built around giving him the best possible support over three weeks, and Adam’s had his most consistent year ever,” added White. “He has not finished off the podium in any race he’s started, when he’s finished. We are looking to continue the consistency he’s shown all this year, and in years past, and to support him to the highest place possible. That’s our number one goal, as well as trying to win a stage along the way.”

The 2019 Tour route features just over 50km of time trials, which is a small figure compared to recent editions. A team time trial comes on Sunday and an individual time trial will take place in Pau on stage 13. In Yates’s favor, Mitchelton-Scott won the Tirreno-Adriatico team time trial the last time they competed together in the discipline.

Then there is Yates’s preferred terrain, the mountains. They weigh heavily in the second half of the Tour. In particular, stages 18, 19, and 20 feature high passes and a chance for Yates and other climbers to express themselves.

“It looks good, it’s better than last year when there were nine to 10 days of flat,” Yates said. “This year we hit the mountains on stage 6, and even stage 3 is tricky in the final. For me, that’s a good thing. The only [stages] I didn’t know were 18, 19, and 20. But I drove there with my girlfriend before the Dauphiné and I did all three. Those stages are going to be tricky, especially in the back end of the race.”

Asked of his race strategy, the plucky climber gave a characteristically candid answer.

“It depends on how I’m feeling,” Yates said. “If the opportunity is there [to attack early], I don’t see why I wouldn’t want to take time. It all depends. The first major hurdle is the TTT, but the last one we did in Tirreno we won, so I hope that I can gain some seconds there.”