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The Ineos Grenadiers captain packed the turbos to follow Jonas Vingegaard and eventual stage-winner of a short but steep fourth-category climb with about 10km to go.
“They did the same thing in Paris-Nice, so we had a bit of suspicion they might do it on this climb here, and yeah they did the same thing,” Yates said at the team bus. “They started sprinting, you either hold on or you don’t. I was sprinting full gas from bottom to the top.”
Van Aert powered home for the win, and Yates saw his morale receive a big boost as the GC favorites jostle for position and momentum in the early going of the 2022 Tour.
Yates held on as long as he could, and came through safely with the front group with GC co-leaders Dani Martínez and Geraint Thomas.
“I just about ran out of legs at the top but there was only one guy who was better than me,” Yates said. “Jonas was behind me, but he wasn’t going to do a turn with Wout up the road. I asked him if he wanted to come through, but he said no.”
Ineos Grenadiers had its collective radar up as Jumbo-Visma powered to the front in the short but explosive climb as the Tour returned to France after three days in Denmark.
Jumbo-Visma pulled similar tactics at Paris-Nice and at the Critérium du Dauphiné, so Yates gave everything he could so he wouldn’t be caught out.
The fact he hung on among the “best of the rest” is a good sign going forward for Yates.
“I was a little bit more out of position as well. We had a suspicion they might do something, and we went into the bottom of the climb in a good position thanks to the guys,” Yates said. “I just did my best to hang on as possible.”
And Wednesday’s cobblestone stage?
“No, I’m not looking forward to it, I’ll be honest,” he said. “Last time I did it was 2018 and I managed to get through without any time lost or crashes, I hope for the same.”