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Has it already been four years since Adam Yates finished fourth place at the Tour de France, a result that —at the time — appeared to confirm him as Mitchelton-Scott’s contender for the yellow jersey for years to come?
- Tour de France: Mitchelton-Scott
- Tour de France 2020: Five stages of intrigue, tension and special significance
- Tour de France 2020: Mitchelton-Scott team packs punch in hunt for stages
My, how quickly things can change in the topsy-turvy world of pro cycling. No situation better illustrates this fact that Mitchelton-Scott’s 2020 Tour de France roster, as well as the team’s messaging around its ambitions at the race. Yates is once again back, riding his fifth Tour de France, at age 28. This is prime contender age for men of his ability. Yet Mitchelton-Scott management has let it be known that Yates and his teammates will not target a run at the GC, and will instead firmly target stage wins throughout the three-week race.
It’s easy to see why, of course. In 2019 Mitchelton-Scott enjoyed its best-ever Tour by abandoning the GC playbook and instead targeting stage wins. The Australian team took four stage victories with three riders during the race, with Daryl Impey, Simon Yates, and Matteo Trentin all winning in dramatic fashion.
Meanwhile, Adam Yates simply has not blossomed into the Tour de France contender from those hopeful days back in 2016. And, while his brother has inked a new deal with the Australian team, Adam appears likely to depart after 2020.
Jack Bauer and Sam Bewley (both New Zealand), Esteban Chaves (Colombia), Daryl Impey (South Africa), Chris Juul-Jensen (Denmark), Luka Mezgek (Slovenia), Mikel Nieve (Spain), Adam Yates (Great Britain).
At face value, Mitchelton-Scott’s lineup appears custom-built for a targeted run at the yellow jersey, with a well-rounded roster of climbers, rouleurs, and workhorses for the flat. Workhorses Jack Bauer, Chris Juul-Jensen, and Sam Bewley will protect the squad on the flats and hills. Impey is back for one more Tour ride before jumping to Israel Start-Up Nation, and he will no doubt attack into breakaways on the rolling and transition stages.
Tour newbie Luka Mezgec, a capable sprinter and breakaway man, sill also look for opportunities on the flatter or hilly stages.
The team for the mountains is where the Mitchelton-Scott will see the most deviation from the norm. Mikel Nieve, one of the best climbing domestiques of this era, will be given free rein to target victories, rather than be handcuffed to a teammate for pace-setting duties. Colombian climber Esteban Chaves will also be allowed to fly. The addition of Chaves to the squad boosts its chances of winning in the high mountains. In 2018 and 2019 Chaves scored mountaintop victories at the Giro d’Italia after he was unleashed from domestique duty.
While it may be hard to swallow, Mitchelton-Scott is right to abandon its quixotic GC hunt in favor of stage wins. Fans may balk at viewing the longtime GC squad outside the tight circle of contenders for yellow, but we cannot argue with management’s decision. If the team can get anywhere near its stage win haul from 2019, then the 2020 Tour de France will be more than a success.
We expect to see Impey attacking into the breakaways on stages 7, 12, and 14. Keep an eye on Chaves and Nieve for stages 8, 15, and 17. And the steep climbs on stage 18 could suit Yates. No matter the stage, however, it’s a safe bet that Mitchelton-Scott will have a rider going for glory.