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Tour de France

Geraint Thomas praises contract-hunting Adam Yates for Tour de France sacrifice

'He’s out of contract this year and that can always play a different part when it comes to committing to a teammate, but he was really committed to me,' says Welshman.

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FOIX, France (VN) – There had already been signs in this year’s Tour de France that if push came to shove Adam Yates would sacrifice his own GC chances for Geraint Thomas if the need required it.

On stage 16 from Carcassonne to Foix that scenario played out entirely with Yates closing gaps on both the Port de Lers and the Mur de Péguère in order to keep Thomas’ third place position in check.

Yates’s efforts were made harder by the fact that he was closing down gaps created by Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard, who continue to race their own two-man battle in this year’s race.

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The British climber was eventually dropped on the Mur de Péguère and would come over the line 1:22 down on the major GC contenders but his efforts to help pace Thomas back towards the front of the race after he too was distanced ensured that the Welshman strengthened his grip on third place overall. Romain Bardet, who had been Thomas’s closest rival, has been pushed out of the picture for a podium place, while Nairo Quintana, another rider who finished alongside Thomas, is now fourth overall.

Yates, though, dropped from fifth on GC to sixth and will ride as a super domestique for Thomas for the remainder of the race, and especially over the next two days in the Pyrenees.

“A big shout out to Yates. He really committed to me there,” Thomas said as he warmed down on the rollers outside the Ineos Grenadiers team bus.

“He’s out of contract this year and that can always play a different part when it comes to committing to a teammate but he was really committed to me and he was really strong with his pace. That allowed me to close the gap at the top.”

Yates is indeed out of contract at the end of the year and has drawn interest from several teams, including his old squad Team BikeExchange but Ineos remain the favorites to re-sign him.

As for Thomas, he continues to be the best of the rest in this year’s Tour de France – unable to follow the electric pace of Pogacar and Vingegaard but still more than good enough to distance all the other GC riders on a consistent basis. If he can hold it together for the next two days a podium place in Paris will be his.

“It was hot out there and after a rest-day you never know how people are going to pull up. It was a case of doing those two climbs as best as possible really. I rode at my own pace, as I’ve been doing most of the race and then came back to them over the top. I had Dani [Martinez] there to close the gap, which was great. I gained a bit of time on [Romain] Bardet, which was nice. It was a decent day,” he said.

“It’s tough to do anything with the front two because they are super strong but you never know. Yates said Bardet was struggling on the first climb so we just stuck to our plan and kept riding our tempo. When we heard that he was dropped that was great for us.”