PLUMELEC, France (AFP) — Diminutive climber Adam Yates is glad to see the back of the flat stages at the Tour de France and eager to start tackling the Pyrénées.
The Orica-GreenEdge youngster struggled throughout the first week of the Tour with several mostly flat stages that nonetheless threw up various obstacles such as wind, rain, cobbles, and even a heatwave to start the Tour.
But Yates says he will be much more in his element once the race reaches the mountains.
“I’m just glad to get it over and done with, I don’t like the flat stages anyway. Bring on the mountains really.
“It’s not really been a hard week, probably the easiest week I’ve done ever. It’s just stressful, you can’t even get to the front because there’s so many people trying to get there, and it isn’t easy. The mountains is what I’m best at.
“You can’t even move up most of the time [on flat stages], you get to about 50th wheel and that’s about as far as you can get until you get to an open, nine-lane highway.”
Yates and twin brother Simon, both 22, are expected to shine in the mountains and will be eyeing breakaway opportunities in the hope of winning a stage.
Both have shown promise these last couple of seasons with Simon finishing fifth at both the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour of the Basque Country and sixth at the Tour de Romandie; last year Adam won the Tour of Turkey and also came sixth at the Dauphiné.
Adam also took an impressive seventh place on Saturday’s stage 8, one spot ahead of race leader Chris Froome.
Otherwise, Australian team Orica had a disastrous first week, seeing three riders crash out of the Tour.
It meant they arrived at Sunday’s team time trial with just six riders and were up against some teams with a full complement of nine.
Adam said they didn’t even try to ride hard as they finished last, almost five minutes behind winners BMC and twice as far back as the worst of the rest.
“We just rode a nice tempo, limited the turns so nobody’s doing the bulk of the work.
“We’re six guys, we were never going to fight for the win so we took it easy and basically it was a rest day before the rest day.”
Monday is a true day off before the Tour’s first mountain stage Tuesday, in the Pyrénées, from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint Martin.
The 15km, final ‘hors category’ climb is more to Adam Yates’ liking than Saturday’s 2km finish on the Mur de Bretagne where he took seventh, and that result has him feeling confident about what’s to come.
“These little, short climbs aren’t my favorites, so I should be good [on Tuesday], I reckon.”