Yates’s secret weapon could be his all-star twin, Simon, who will slot in as a climbing domestique.
Adam, the budding British GC star, is aiming to hit the repeat button on his breakout 2016 performance, when he was fourth overall and won the best young rider’s jersey, not last year’s version, when he struggled in the mountains and finished a distant 29th.
“A couple years ago I was fourth and not far from the podium, I don’t really want to put a marker on what I want to achieve,” Yates said Friday as the team confirmed its Tour lineup. “I just know I’ll like to go better than previously and with the condition and consistency I’ve had this year I don’t see why not.”
At 26, he’s no longer racing in the white jersey category, but rather putting focus on a strong GC. With the support he’ll see in the flats and in the mountains, including a surprising start position with his twin brother, Simon, Yates will have the backing he needs to make a legitimate run for the podium.
The climb-heavy course should help Yates, who’s had a strong spring capped by second at Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya. He pulled out ill after leading the Critérium du Dauphiné, but he insisted he’s quickly recovered from a stomach bug.
“Our primary goal is to give Adam Yates every chance possible to arrive on the podium come Paris, but our secondary goal is also to win a stage,” said sport director Matt White. “We have a good combination of riders who can help achieve those goals, and to get a result as a key GC rider, you are very much reliant on the strength of the team.”
Simon Yates, who raced to eighth overall at the Giro d’Italia last month, will slot in as “super domestique,” and promises to pay back the favor Adam provided en route to winning the Vuelta a España last year. Jack Haig, making his Tour debut, will also be a key support rider in the mountains.
For the transition stages as well as for the team time trial in stage 2, Mitchelton-Scott packs plenty of firepower, including Daryl Impey, Chris Juul-Jensen, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn and Matteo Trentin.
“We’re bringing a super strong team for pretty much all terrain. Imps and Trentin will be able to have a go at some of the lumpy sprint stages and then I’ll have the big guys like Durbo, Heppy, and Chris to keep me out of trouble and out of the wind on the nervous flat stages,” Yates said. “Once we hit the mountains Jack and Simon will be there to push the pace if we need to, so I feel we’ve got a really nice balanced team that will help us challenge for the win.”
As White said, the team packs big ambitions for the Tour. The Australian-registered outfit would like to win a stage — it won two in 2013 and one in 2016 — as well as aim for the podium. The team’s come close to Tour podiums before as the team has matured into a legitimate GC squad, with Adam Yates fourth overall in 2016 just 21 seconds shy of third. Simon Yates was seventh in 2017, nearly four minutes off third.
“If we can continue to support Adam as we did Simon at the Giro then this will only enhance Adam’s chances of a solid result,” White said. “On a climbing front we will have Simon Yates in a super domestic role. His primary goal is to be there for his brother Adam and to return the favor from the Vuelta last year.”
Mitchelton-Scott at the Tour de France (6 – 28 July):
Adam Yates (GBR, 26)
Simon Yates (GBR, 26)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 28)
Jack Haig (AUS, 25)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 27)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 34)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 29)
Matteo Trentin (ITA, 29)